The Boss Just Wanted to Help

By Bill Wright

Assuming that psychological counseling might be a “medical examination” under the ADA, when may an employer require an employee to get counseling as a condition of continued employment? A recent 6th Circuit case provides some detail – the mere fact that the employee is emotional about a romantic relationship doesn’t cut it. In this case, the employee was seen crying, called a co-worker crying, was overheard arguing with her lover, and had a jealous fight with another co-worker. But her boss had almost no information to suggest that her emotional state was interfering with her work or that it posed a threat to anyone. In fact, the boss testified that he required counseling because the employee’s life was a mess and he thought he could help her. Now a jury will have to decide all the various elements to see whether ordering this employee to get counseling violated the ADA. Kroll v. White Lake Ambulance Authority, Case. No. 13-1774 (6th Cir. Aug. 19, 2014).

The lesson here? When acting as the boss, don’t “help.”