An Employee May Be Held Accountable for Poor Performance, Even If Caused By Disability


The U.S. Court of Appeals for Fifth Circuit recently reminded employers that they may hold employees accountable for performance standards even if the failure to meet the standard is caused by the disability.

In Moore v. Centralized Management Services, LLC, the employee was terminated for poor performance. He sued, claiming that the termination was actually because of his alcoholism, which constitutes a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Fifth Circuit held, however, that “[t]erminating an employee whose performance is unsatisfactory according to management’s business judgment is legitimate and nondiscriminatory as a matter of law.” Moreover, “[t]he ADA explicitly allows an employer to hold an employee who . . . is an alcoholic to the same . . . standards for . . . job performance and behavior that such entity holds other employees, even if any unsatisfactory performance or behavior is related to the . . . alcoholism of such employee.”

Thus, this case offers support for employers’ ability to hold employees accountable for legitimate performance standards. While employers must, of course, provide reasonable accommodations to enable disabled employees to meet those standards, they do not need to excuse employees from such standards.