Working at a company whose culture is fairly accommodating; I try to afford employees with flexibility when it comes to scheduling working hours and time off. However, being a 24-7 business, I do require some employees to work on weekends. One such employee—who shall remain nameless—was hired on a one year contract to work Friday through Monday. After a few days on the job, he approached me to request a religious accommodation; he was Muslim and wanted to have Fridays off to observe the day of prayer. I asked if he was able to leave work for a little while to attend the mosque, but he insisted that he really needed to have the entire day off on Friday. Despite the fact that I hired him specifically to work Friday through Monday, after a discussion with my boss, I conceded and changed his schedule to Saturday through Tuesday. After all, we work in a small office and truly try to foster diversity.
A couple months passed, and he approached me again, this time to let me know that he was switching to Christianity and would like to have Sundays off. Knowing that we had other employees who chose to observe a day of rest on Sunday, I decided not to court a discrimination suit and allow him to take Sundays off, with the proviso that he return to working Fridays. After rearranging the schedules of several other staff members to accommodate He’s request, he started working a Friday, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday schedule.
Not a month later did he approach me again to request that he be allowed to leave work on Fridays to attend the mosque in addition to having Sundays off to attend church. This time I drew a line in the sand and told him firmly that he had to choose.
A few weeks later He submitted a vacation request for time off following the completion of his 12-month contract. Presumably, he thought that he would be receiving a permanent offer of employment, which. Despite the fact that he still had several months of his contract remaining, and I hadn’t intended to inform him that his contract wouldn’t be renewed until 30-days beforehand, I felt obliged to let him unfortunately was not the case know early so he could make an informed decision about purchasing an exorbitant vacation. This didn’t go over well.
When I told him that he was trying to book vacation past the end of his contract and that we wouldn’t be offering him a permanent position, his response was “You can’t do that, I’m disabled!” I was in complete shock as he had never requested any accommodations for a disability, nor had he ever informed anyone of said disability. I tried to explain that the decision not to renew his contract was a business decision based on performance metrics and financials and not anything to do with his disability status. He screamed at me, “Are you saying my disability doesn’t matter?”
No, that’s not what I was saying at all. I respected and worked with all of this individual’s accommodation requests. To accuse me of being insensitive to a disability that I didn’t know existed, AFTER being informed that his contract wasn’t being renewed, was ludicrous.
Ah, the joys of being in HR!