Part 4: Fitness for Duty and Mental Health

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Hi Brent,

I appreciate Link Care Center’s reluctance to get into employment disputes, when your main calling is to help people therapeutically. And I agree that it would be easy for conflicts of interests to develop, when your client is the individual, but the mission would like information.

I also agree that good processes may help avoid FFD evaluations most of the time. Even in our case study about the employee who was fired after an FFD evaluation, note that the ultimate problem was bad behavior—screaming, ranting, arguing and being paranoid. In a case like this, having good job descriptions that include behavioral requirements (such as getting along on a team), and good descriptions of biblical values and interpersonal behavior, would allow you to document that the person was falling short and remove the person from employment. You would not have to go through the complexities of FFD.

And in cases where someone needs counseling, and agrees that they needed counseling, they can work with Link Care Center or another therapist and get the needed help without further formalities.

There may still be times when an FFD is needed. The situation itself might be so tangled it is hard to understand what is happening. Or it might be an individual who states that his or her bad behavior results from a disability, and thus must be excused, and you may want some evidence of a disability before starting the interactive process.

Generally, the more complex the situation and the more likely legal issues are to arise, the more expert the evaluation must be. Sometimes, it may need to be a forensic psychologist. Sometimes, the person might need to have further specialization in a particular area. Or it might be a pastor or spiritual director evaluating the person’s fitness for spiritual ministry.

Employment situations are complex. When I get calls from clients, we balance many things, such as, for example: the needs of employees who are suffering; complying with the law; whether other people are being hurt or could be placed in danger; who has the expertise we need; how this is affecting the spiritual mission; how to manage costs; risks of litigation; and what to communicate to people and when. This analysis also depends on when I was brought in, and whether what happened before I was brought in is really defensible. It’s usually easier to manage situations proactively than to do damage control.

Because of the generality of the information on this site, it may not apply to a given place, time, or set of facts. It is not intended to be legal advice, and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations