Earlier this month a federal court in Florida granted summary judgment to an employer on an ADA claim. In Mecca v. Fla. Health Services, Dan Mecca was employed as a Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (“PICC”) nurse. His job involved inserting IV catheters into patients’ veins, typically in their arms, and threading them through the veins until the tip of the catether rested near their hearts. As even this cursory explanation makes clear, it’s a job requiring precision and a lot of care; risks of infection can be high.
Mecca suffered from panic attacks and anxiety. His employer granted him several leaves of absence under the FMLA (alas, we know the FMLA and ADA often intersect in these kinds of situations). It also granted additional schedule changes on various occasions to accommodate his symptoms. When Mecca returned from his last leave of absence on a reduced schedule basis, he failed to perform his duties. His first day back he ignored multiple requests to assists patients. He also left work early, without authorization. So when HR told him he would face disciplinary action, he resigned and sued for discrimination under the ADA (among other things).
In dismissing Mecca’s claims, the court recognized what a fine job the employer did in accommodating Mecca. It made several scheduling changes and allowed numerous leaves. In the end, Mecca basically wanted to come and go as he pleased, without repercussions. Not a reasonable accommodation, per the court.
Mental disabilities can be tricky issues to navigate. The employer here got it right by making multiple accommodations in an effort to enable Mecca to be successful in his job. When it finally put its foot down (or was about to, when Mecca resigned), it was for legitimate performance reasons.