Can I be fired for not greeting every customer that comes in the door if I feel I can’t because of a disability?

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Can I be fired for not greeting every customer that comes in the door if I feel I can’t because of a disability?

I have bipolar disorder and studies have shown that people with this disorder, on average, have difficulties in particular cognitive domains, such as divided attention also called multi-

tasking, response inhibition putting the brakes on a response, and cognitive flexibility being able to shift back and forth between different activities, as well as problems with memory retrieval. At work I cannot do 2 things at once. I become very frustrated and shut down. I am being threatened to be terminated for not greeting everyone that comes through the door while I check out others. I cannot focus on checking out people and watch who’s coming in at the same time and shout greetings. I also cannot answer the phone and continue checking out customers. I got wrote up for that not long ago. I don’t think if fair to be fired for something you feel you geninually can’t do because if a disability. Is this legal? What do I need to do?

Asked on October 8, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Louisiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It is legal is it is a legitimate part of the job: that is, if everyone in your job or role is required to greet customers as they come in. That is because while companies cannot terminate people for having disabilities, they can be terminated if they simply cannot or will not do core parts of your job. If only you were being singled out to do this, that would be likely be illegal disability-based discrimination: adding a task or requirement only to your job, such as to provide a pretext for terminating a person with disabilities. But if anyone doing that job has to do this, it is a legitimate requirement of the job with which you can be required to comply. 
There are some jobs which people with certain issues should not or cannot have: someone with a deep-seated fear of heights could not be pilot, a lineman, many types of construction worker, etc. This may not be a job for you.


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