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home : columns : dear harriette October 26, 2020

8/26/2020 7:57:00 AM
Employee wants to take action for co-worker

DEAR HARRIETTE: My co-worker is in a wheelchair. During quarantine, our general manager sent a memo for all employees to use a back entrance to our store in order to do proper check-in before our shifts. This entrance is not handicap accessible. My co-worker asked to use an alternative entrance where he can get inside without help.

My co-worker came to me concerned for his job after being shot down by our general manager and was told he needs to use the same entrance as everyone else. I could not believe this! He is in a protected class and should be treated as such. Now I want to take action. Where do I start? -- Supportive Co-Worker

DEAR SUPPORTIVE CO-WORKER: COVID-19 has not always brought out the best in people. Your manager sounds stressed and stretched. Clearly, he is not thinking compassionately about your co-worker who cannot discard his disability simply because there is a need for change at the office.

You could go to your general manager privately and point out that this new rule makes it impossible for your co-worker to navigate entry into the building independently. Ask him to reconsider allowing your co-worker to use a wheelchair-friendly entrance.

Before you point out the legal requirement to provide access to this employee, check the rules. If this is a small business with fewer than 15 employees, the company is not required to make that accommodation. If that's the case, appealing to the general manager's humanity is the way to go. For more details, go to eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/your-employment-rights-individual-disability.

If your general manager refuses to allow your friend to use a different entrance, why don't you offer to meet him each morning, if possible, to help him enter the job? Hopefully, this will be a temporary problem.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My wife and I want to open a restaurant. It has been our shared dream since the day that we met. Now that we are moving toward the first steps, we are finding that we have a lot of differences of opinion when it comes to the business. It's been a battle to make every decision. At this point, we have divided responsibilities and decisions just so we do not argue. We have had a good handle on it so far, and I know our marriage is strong enough to handle anything, but with our whole life savings being invested in this restaurant, I want to make sure it succeeds. Are we in over our heads, or should I just keep the faith? They say don't mix business with pleasure, but this is my life partner; I think we need to be all-in or nothing. What's your thought? -- Winning Couple

DEAR WINNING COUPLE: Sit down and talk through the requirements for getting the restaurant up and going. Delineate duties based on skill and interest. Point out that since you are experiencing conflict working together on the job, it is best to divide but important to come together to approve general concepts, budget and timeline. If you can continue to work together respectfully -- even when you disagree -- you stand a better chance of surviving and thriving.





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