DFW Veterinary Practice

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Company Type:    Veterinary Practice
Location:                Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
Employees:           37
Client Since:         2018

The Challenge
A recently hired employee was working for a veterinary clinic as a driver, transporting animals to and from the client’s facility.  The job required lifting and carrying animals weighing up to 80 lbs.  Shortly after being hired, the employee disclosed that she was pregnant and stated that she couldn’t complete her job duties due to her pregnancy.  She provided a doctor’s note prescribing lifting restrictions (no more than 10 lbs.), frequent restroom breaks, and limits to the length of time she could work each day.  The client wished to terminate this employee.

Staff One HR’s Approach
Our HR Manager advised the client to accommodate the restrictions requested by the employee’s physician.  When the client indicated that it wouldn’t be possible to make the requested accommodations, we advised that they provide the employee with her job description and ask that she review it with her physician.  This would allow the physician to recommend reasonable accommodations to the employer, allowing them to consider the employee for other open positions for which she would be qualified and able to complete the required duties, with or without accommodations.  However, the employee did not provide the requested suggestions from herself or her physician, and was unable to complete the essential duties of her current position or any other available position at the veterinary clinic, with or without restrictions.

Applicable Law
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits employers from discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, as it is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discrimination based on disability.

Results
The client adhered to Staff One HR’s recommendations, placing the employee on an unpaid leave of absence until she could be released to return to work by her doctor.  In situations that are difficult to resolve, it’s essential to establish clear lines of communication quickly, set expectations, and document the entire process.