UPS Employee Fired After Requesting Special Accommodations For Depression

If corporations are people, as some politicians famously claim, then should they be expected to act like it?

Not according to one UPS supervisor in Kentucky, should the charges against him be proven to be true. When 46-year-old Dona Kerger approached her superiors at her Kentucky UPS branch about finding a way to work primarily on "light duty" work assignments, she was rebuffed. Having begun at UPS in 2007 as a tariff classification specialist, Kerger had been open about her clinical anxiety and depression. She also had never once been suspended, demoted or disciplined and had an excellent work record.

Armed with the knowledge that UPS had previously made special accommodations for injured employees, Kerger sought to come up with an acceptable work schedule that would allow her to respect her condition. "Do you honestly think we care about you personally?" was the response given by her supervisor, Mike Richardson.

Following that retort, Kerger was summarily dismissed. She filed suit for discriminatory and unlawful discharge on the basis of a disability, according to the complaint obtained by the Courthouse News Service.

While the second half of the 20th century witnessed major civil rights advances concerning race and gender, many have argued that issues like physical beauty and mental health will increasingly be on the docket for this century.

Those working in the field of mental health have long emphasized that people are predisposed to mental health problems, a fact that is widely accepted for more extreme syndromes. And of course, the Americans with Disabilities Act, among other laws, does provide safeguards for those who qualify. But each new discovery of a genetic basis for mental health conditions could lend credence to the conclusion that the mentally ill deserve entrenched workplace protections.

For instance, a new study out of the University of North Carolina has determined that 11 DNA regions in the human genome have strong association with diseases including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The study uncovered six new areas that previously had not been connected to such disabilities.

"This is the largest study of its kind by far," says Patrick F. Sullivan, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and genetics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a principal investigator in the study.

Indeed, those who suffer from any mental health condition, including pure depression, have long had a rough go of it in the workplace. According to an article published by Medscape Medical News, large-scale population surveys have consistently estimated the unemployment rate among people with mental disorders to be three to five times higher than average. Also worth keeping in mind is the accompanying stat that roughly 50 percent of U.S. employers are reluctant to hire someone with past psychiatric history or who currently is undergoing treatment for depression.

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ilenedan2 has a poorly written post, just like the article, both need to go back to school to be educated. First of all depression is very serious and can make the heavy boxes 10 to 100 times heavier, there is a court case here with a lot of money involved as UPS, like Waste Management and other companies are " the use them and lose them companies", they take advantage of American workers so their CEO's and VP's can get their huge pay raises, and not pay their fair share of taxes. Those people are the ones that do nothing and have others do their work for them, they should be shown the door. Some people have good jobs at these companies and defend the company all the way. I know a driver for UPS that has been out of work for the past 2 years, he fell of an icy dock and landed down on the back of his own UPS box truck, he just had another operation and his wife is now unemployed. UPS wants him back to work, and we both know that they will give him a job that he will fail at and try to pink slip him. They can always get a new driver, these companies don't care at all about their workers (only a fool would believe that), it's all about the money. I worked for WM for a couple years and one year they killed 80+ people, in the 3 countries that they work in, if I remember right 16 were their own mechanics, was a few years back and the numbers could be a little off, but these people are still DEAD. I'd tell you the real story about the retired school teacher that got run over in Reading, Mass. but they would not print this post. Yes she is dead and then some.

October 15 2011 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This article doesn't explain anything. How exactly did her depression prevent her from lifting heavy boxes? How would lifting lighter boxes, or being on lighter duty somehow help her depression? If she was requesting fewer hours because she needed clinical help during those hours and that help wasn't available at night, I could see it. Or if she was on medication that made it dengerous for her to operate certain machinery, then I could see her needing some accomodations, but it is hard to see any connection between this story and the medical needs of someone with schizophrenia and unclear why the author makes that leap. It also is irrelevant that certain genes are linked to mental diseases. DNA is linked to all kinds of things, but having a gene that predisposes you for diabetes, for example, does not mean you will get diabetes. Having diabetes does not mean you will be unable to work or will even require any accomodations due to diabetes. The same is true for mental illness. This is a very poorly written article that leaps from subject to subject without any rhyme or reason.

September 20 2011 at 8:01 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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