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The ADA letter has been a fight. They will not even tell me if they want the doctor to use their form.

I have asked repeatedly about that.

They have gone on what HR and lawyers call "fishing expeditions" to try to get information. Guess what they did at the training? They got someone who works there to come out at lunch and announce, as if this were training related content, that she got Xanax for her husband because he hates to fly when he took a business trip with a bunch of rowdy college kids to Mexico recently.

That one was so obviously a fishing expedition, designed to elicit information that they are not allowed to ask about, that I almost choked on my sandwich.

I told my counselor, a former HR professional about that, and we had a good laugh. She said, "Yep. They sure enough are on a fishing expedition."

Also, when I requested an eight hour day during training and asked them if I had been told before training that there would be any ten hour days, guess what happened?

Rather than deal with this narrowly, which is what they should have done to avoid potential liability, they opened themselves up to liability under the Americans With Disabilities Act, the FMHLA, and, signally, Title VII. The former civil rights lawyer in me (I clerked for the NAACP LDF in law school) just listened and heard "ccch ching," as in, oh, make my day. Are you really so stupid to be asking me these things?

A woman who is a supervisor in a substantive position and who also claims to wear a HR hat, and whom HR says wears a HR hat, took me aside and asked me if it were the right job for me, given questions I had asked about a few things. Those few things, ladies, are what would open the door for what is called pretext under the above-named laws. Good lawyers get people like this to shut their traps. Not to keep putting their feet in them.

This place is in the Midwest. I have seen this before. It is really comical given Obama's push for health care reforn, for example, but everybody and her brother knows that the U of Chicago at one time, and maybe still, was a walking ADA lawsuit, a class action, even, waiting to be had. Oh, the stories I could tell.

The place did not even have a valid ADA compliance policy on its face. That is right. When the ADA came out, the U of Chicago had a facially invalid plan, not just a plan for compliance that was invalid as applied. It was a hoot coming from the West Coast and seeing this. I had known the lawyer President Clinton tapped to be his point man on the ADA in law school. The guy taught as an adjunct at my law school in California. California was just so ahead.

So I am not surprised that this place in the Midwest is situated in the dark ages of the law. Still, it holds itself out as a very important standard bearer for affirmative action, even putting its policy before the Supreme Court when needed. And it does have a politically hot potato appointment in the Obama administration. Where I am working, that is. So if this blew up, it would really blow up. And probably all of the crap that a lot of us know about the U of Chicago would come up.

All of that would be very interesting, but I just want the letter and to get on with my life. The former civil rights lawyer in me would love to take them to town, but I am not practicing law now and just want to get on with the show.

October 11, 2009 - 4:00am


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