Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
ADA and Church Hiring
Georgia
State:
Key point 8-14.1. The federal Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers with at least 15 employees, and that are engaged in interstate commerce, from discriminating in any employment decision against a qualified individual with a disability who is able, with or without reasonable accommodation from the employer, to perform the essential functions of the job. Accommodations that impose an undue hardship upon an employer are not required. Religious organizations may give preference to nondisabled members of their faith over disabled persons who are members of a different faith.

A federal court in Georgia ruled that a church may have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by dismissing a custodian suffering from schizophrenia, but it could not be liable for failing to reasonably accommodate the custodian's disability since the custodian never suggested reasonable accommodations for the church to try. A church hired a man (the "plaintiff") as a maintenance worker. He was responsible for cleaning and maintaining the church sanctuary and other areas. He performed his duties well and often was complimented by church members for his good work. He suffered from schizophrenia, a condition characterized by severe anxiety, depression, fear, nightmares, seizures, delusions, hallucinations, difficulty interacting with people, trouble thinking, and insomnia. He controls his symptoms by taking medication and working, but his ability to work is limited to 8 hours per day for 40 hours per week.

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Posted: February 20, 2015
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