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Exempt Employee Refuses to Travel California

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  • Exempt Employee Refuses to Travel California

    I have a California exempt employee who is at risk for layoff (she is unaware of this at this time) and she refuses to travel for a work assignment. Do I have any recourse?

  • #2
    Yes. You can fire her. Or discipline her in whatever other manner you find appropriate.

    Exempt or non-exempt, if the employer says travel, you travel. There is no guaranteed right to refuse a legal assignment by the employer.

    The above presumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract SPECIFICALLY grants her the right to turn down travel with no repercussions.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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    • #3
      Thanks - what about if they say they have a medical condition? Could that be a defense as to why they can't travel?

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      • #4
        In some circumstances, it could. But it's not an across-the-board get-out-of-jail-free card, either.

        IS that what she's claiming? If so, what is the medical condition, has it been verified by her doctor, does either FMLA or the ADA apply, and is the travel an essential function of her position?
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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        • #5
          She has not filed an FMLA claim - she has just notified her managment that she has been diagnosed with Lupes so she can get sick at different times.

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          • #6
            And lupus prevents her from traveling because....?
            The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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            • #7
              She just states that she could become sick and away from her primary physician.

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              • #8
                Frankly, I don't think "I might become sick" is a valid excuse to refuse mandatory travel. But before I go any further, could you give me the answer to my last question above?
                The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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                • #9
                  Hi,

                  Unfortunately I don't have the answer - I haven't spoken with her since I'm working this remotely. I believe that the manager was just checking since he has been notified of her illness.

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                  • #10
                    I don't know enough about lupus to say if this is a reasonable fear, or if she's just using it to get out of doing something she doesn't want to do. I do know that a number of years ago, a co-worker of mine was diagnosed with lupus and she led a completely normal life, including travel.

                    I know how I'd handle this but before I outline it, I think it's important for you to find out for certain if the travel is essential to her job, and I also hope that someone who might know more about lupus will chime in. Other responders?
                    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Lupus, although a serious disease is deifnetely not the tell all, be all get out of jail free card for work.

                      The severity of the Lupus is one thing that needs to be considered, this is something that can only be determined by a physician. If the employee is unable to perform essential job functions due to the disease then "reasonable accomodations" need to be made.

                      I highly recommend doing some research on the effects of Lupus and what limitations it may cause, not wishing to travel due to the possibility of a problem however is a weak reason for refusing to travel. Are you sending her to some remote part of California that does not have physicians? Sorry for the sarcastic tone, but it seems as though this employee may be using this as a crutch early on.

                      Great place to do your own research...http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/lupus/DS00115
                      Last edited by CatBert; 03-01-2010, 07:07 PM. Reason: added research comment
                      Not everything in America is actionable in a court of law. Please remember that attorneys are in business for profit, and they get paid regardless of whether or not you win or lose.

                      I offer my knowledge and experience at no charge, I admit that I am NOT infallible, I am wrong sometimes, hopefully another responder will correct me if that is the case with the answer above, regardless, it is your responsibility to verify any and all information provided.

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                      • #12
                        It's up to the employee's doctor to determine the severity of her disease. The NIH states "Because of the chronic, unpredictable, and evolving nature of lupus, patient's often have to cope with serious emotional and psychosocial issues along with the physical dimensions of their illness."

                        Lupus is a very serious disease which can affect the major body systems such as nervous, ophthalmic, dermatologic, gastrointestinal and renal.

                        Lupus patients universally complain of chronic debilitating fatigue. I would say this employee has a condition that easily qualifies her for FMLA.

                        Even though, some patient's may have minor symptoms and on the most part are able to continue living a normal life, I personally have known patients who have become disabled or died secondary to the complications caused by this disease.

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                        • #13
                          My aunt has a very serious case of Lupus and has been totally disabled since her 30's. On the other hand, I have employees with lupus who are able to perform their essential job functions. The symptom severity is dependent on the individual.

                          At this point I would write a letter to her doctor and attach it to her job description. The letter would go something like..."please review the attached job description and provide your professional opinion on Ms. X's ability to perform her essential job duties, with or without reasonable accommodation. Specifically, please comment on her ability to travel and if she needs reasonable accommodations, please list them."

                          Then give the letter and JD to the employee. Give her a time frame (2 weeks) to get it back to you. If her MD says she can't travel, you are stuck. You will have to determine if there are any reasonable accommodations you and she can agree on. You will have to determine if travelling is an essential job duty. And you should also be aware that any layoff decision shortly after this series of events will appear retaliatory. Hopefully you have some credible proof the layoff discussions started before she refused to travel.

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                          • #14
                            I have family that has lupus. And I can tell you that from my perspective as a small business owner/employer is that you should have engaged in a discussion with her about this. Then she had the responsibility to present that documentation to you in a timely manner. You don't just wait around for a convenient time.
                            I don't believe what I write, and neither should you. Information furnished to you is for debate purposes only, be sure to verify with your own research.
                            Keep in mind that the information provided may not be worth any more than either a politician's promise or what you paid for it (nothing).
                            I also may not have been either sane or sober when I wrote it down.
                            Don't worry, be happy.

                            http://www.rcfp.org/taping/index.html is a good resource!

                            Comment

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