I wasn’t always a rockstar in HR. I’ve made quite a few major blunders in my career. I’m going to share the stories of the ones that most impacted me this month in a series. Keep reading …
Al “Hoop” Hooper was injured in a car accident and almost lost his vision. He was left with a disorder that made him unable to see color and read some kinds of print.
He had been out of work for 3 years when he came into our office to apply for a temp job. His story and positive attitude touched me — and I found the perfect job for him! His assignment was to walk around this massive production/distribution facility and collect cardboard for recycling. That’s it. I made sure the client was aware of his vision issue and they had no problem allowing him to work in that capacity. Hoop went to work for almost a year without issue or incident.
Then a new manager took over the area of the client where Hoop was assigned. The new manager wanted more cross-training across assignments for the temp employees assigned to his area. The manager wanted to begin using Hoop for general production and quality inspection. I explained to the manager that it wasn’t possible because of Hoop’s vision issue. Then the manager said the unthinkable …
“Well then I don’t want him here anymore. Replace him ASAP”
Replace him?!? After a year?!?! Was this manager serious?!?
The manager was very serious. I couldn’t believe it. I tried talking to the client’s HR person and my own boss about it. They both came back with the same response:
Let him go
I didn’t want to. Everything about it felt wrong. This was before I had any formal HR education so I didn’t even think about the ADA issue — I just knew it felt wrong.
But Hoop knew about the ADA — and so did his wife. And they let me know what a violation of his rights this was as soon as I told him that we were ending his assignment. And they let me know the web of woe which was to come if I didn’t fix the situation with the quickness so Hoop could continue working.
And wouldn’t you know, just like that, Hoop was back at work.
But I still felt bad about it. Because I didn’t speak out. Because I didn’t stop it from happening. Because I didn’t know the laws.
But I learned from it:
Last I heard, Hoop’s condition worsened and he lost his vision altogether. He worked collecting the recyclables for almost 6 years before he retired.