Wednesday, May 27, 2015

“You’re late again!” “Talk to my lawyer.”


I’m timely to a fault. I hate being late, and go to great lengths to ensure that I am never tardy for anything. I think it’s annoying to those around me, or least those I live with. Just ask my kids.

Do you have the opposite problem with your employees? Do you have employees who cannot show up for work on time no matter what? Well, it appears there might be a medical explanation for their chronic lateness.

Doctors have begun diagnosing individuals with chronic lateness, a condition caused by the same part of the brain affected by those who suffer from Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. There has even been a study published supporting this diagnosis. That’s the bad news. The good news? The American Psychiatric Association does not recognize “chronic lateness” as a condition.

Of course, just because the APA hasn’t blessed chronic lateness does not mean that employees won’t try to use it as an ADA-protected disability. And, given how broadly the ADA now defines “medical condition,” they might have an argument to make. Don’t lose too much sleep over this, however. Just because an employee has a “disability” doesn’t mean you have to accommodate it. How do you accommodate a chronically late employee? Permit them to come late and stay longer? If you work production or other shifts, for example, that’s awfully hard to do.

Can I envision a situation in which the ADA will protect a chronically late employee and require that you provide an accommodation? Maybe. But, in the grand scheme of HR issues you need to worry about, this one falls pretty low on the scale. If nothing else, it shows just how broad the ADA has become in potentially covering a wide breadth of physical and mental health issues.

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