ADA Does Not Require “Forgiveness or a Second Chance”


An employee could be terminated for violating conduct rules, even resulting from her disability, and the employer was not required to provide an accommodation to enable her to meet the standards in the future, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

In Trahan v. Wayfair Maine, LLC, the call center employee was terminated for violating the employer’s conduct policy following a conflict with co-workers in which she threw her headset, slammed her phone, and called her co-workers “bitches,” and then at a subsequent meeting with management regarding the conflict in which she exhibited rude and unprofessional behavior. After the decision was made to terminate but before the employee was informed of the decision, she informed the company that the incident had triggered her PTSD arising from her military service, and she asked to be moved away from the co-workers. The company decided to proceed with the termination. The employee sued for disability discrimination and failure to provide a reasonable accommodation.

Noting that the “ADA is not license for insubordination at the workplace,” the First Circuit found that the employee’s behavior clearly violated the company’s conduct rules and that the company enforced those rules uniformly with regard to similar behavior. It went on to note that the employee’s requests for accommodation were made after her misconduct, and that “where, as here, an accommodation request follows fireable misconduct, it ordinarily should not be viewed as an accommodation proposal at all.” Rather, it should be viewed as “a plea for forgiveness or for a second chance,” which is not required by the ADA.