One of the most difficult personnel issues that employers face is when an employee suffering from a mental disability engages or threatens to engage in conduct that could harm the employee or others. A recent Eleventh Circuit case dealt with this very sensitive issue and the court's conclusion provides helpful guidance.
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Mental illness in the workplace
Millions of Americans, including students and teachers, suffer from mental illnesses. Various statutes, including the ones we consider here, generally protect those Americans from discrimination because of their ailments. But school districts have a responsibility to keep their students and staff safe from violence. And when, as here, a school district believes that a teacher makes violent threats against herself, her son, and school administrators (and takes improper amounts of medication while responsible for students' welfare), a school district has the right to end that teacher's employment for that reason—even if a mental illness caused or contributed to that behavior. We therefore affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment in the School District's favor. Todd v. Fayette Cty. Sch. Dist., 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 15843, *30