Job Stress and Getting Back to Work Case Summary In case study number two a legal battle between an employee in a supervisory position and his employer, IGA, is described. Donald Knolls, the employee in question, suffered from a period of work stress and was granted disability leave from his employer, IGA, because the employer’s general physician diagnosed him with depression. Over an eight-month period Donald’s personal psychologist, an expert in the area of depression decided that it was appropriate for him to return to work.
When Donald went back to see the employers physician to get cleared for work the doctor informed him that it was not a good idea for him to return to a supervisory role. The doctor recommended that he be demoted on a six-month trial basis in order to see how he handled the stress in a non-supervisory position. He deemed that the stress level would be the same and it would be too much for the man to handle at that time.
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In this case, IGA held that it had the right to rely on the opinion of a fair and impartial physician and that policy within the company states, “with disability leave, appropriate medical documentation may be required”. Donald’s defense stated that he should be allowed back to work because he had been cured of his illness and that the opinion of an expert in the disorder he suffered from deemed him to be ready to go back to the position that he left. 1. When conflicting medical opinions are presented, should the advice of a medical expert count more heavily than the opinion of a general physician?
Explain. When conflicting medical opinions are presented, the advice of a medical expert should absolutely supersede the opinion of a general physician because the expert has the authority to diagnose the disorder and has the ability to recognize when it has been medically managed. A general physician is not likely to have great experience with mental disorders such as depression. Their job is to treat basic diseases, disorders, and pain, which means that they handle a variety of cases. A physician with a specialty in psychological disorders only deals with mental health issues.
That expertise is invaluable in the decision of whether or not to reinstate a disabled employee. A general physician, although versed in all medical disorders, may not be able to recognize the mental outlook of the employee. 2. Is the charge of discrimination charged by Donald’s lawyer relevant to this case? Explain. The charge of discrimination by Donald’s lawyer may or may not be relevant. If IGA is influencing the doctor’s decision in the case then it may be applicable. Based on the information provided there is no evidence to prove that IGA is directing the decision of physician that they recommend to their employees.
So at this time it would be safe to say that the company is basing it’s decision to demote Donald purely by the decision of its own reputable medical physician. That would mean that there is no ground to the accusation of discrimination. 3. If you were presented with this case, what decision would you reach? Explain. If I were presented with this case, I would be inclined to side with Donald on one condition. That condition being the establishment of expertise in the psychologist that he has been working with for the past eight months.
Since this study represents his doctor as a expert in the area of depression I would say that it would be a safe bet to put Donald back to work in his usual supervisorial capacity. The reason for this decision is that the doctor who is an expert in the disorder is more likely to make the correct decision rather than the doctor who is not. The psychologist has dealt with more cases of mental illness and has been given the opportunity to treat patients with similar disorders. That experience gives him the right to make an impartial decision and do what is right for the patient and IGA.
Key Learning 2 This case study helped me learn that there are ways to cope with stress in the workplace that can eliminate or at least diminish the possibility of burnout. Work related stress is caused by factors such as high demand, high effort, low control, and low reward and is quite common (Bohlander, G. ; Snell, S. , 2010, pp. 558). Employees are easily stressed when they realize that their work life is not in alignment with their values and their life goals. That stress can lead to a variety of psychological disorders including depression.
It is important to recognize stress before it creates damage in the work place. After doing some research I found that there are specific ways to decrease stress in the work place. The best ways to alleviate stress are with breaks from tedious tasks, effective communication with superiors, developing a plan of attack, set realistic timelines and benchmarks, and take time to relax once in awhile (Cartwright, S. ; C. L. Cooper, 1997, pp. 50). Taking breaks form tedious tasks allows workers to clear their minds and come up with fresh ideas that will give them a better result at work.
Effective communication with superiors acts to allow managers to at least attempt to give you what you need to be stress free. Developing a plan helps to make the employee more effective and increases the feeling of achievement. Being realistic with timelines will decrease disappointment because more deadlines will be hit. Relaxation is key to decreasing stress because it allows employees to take their mind off of problems they may be having. Key Learning 1 I also learned that it is important to ask as many questions as possible about the conditions of a leave of absence. Mr.
Knowles did not ask his employer what it would take for him to come back. He should have sat down with his employers before he went to see the doctor or read up on the company’s policy to see what it would take for him to come back from a leave of absence. Before someone makes an important work decision it is wise to do the research. Make sure you have a case if you are ready to come back. It is also important to know the law regarding sick leave and job reassignment. Workplaces are legally forced to make considerate accommodations for disabled employees (Belfort, S. F. , 2002, 439).
If I were thinking about taking a sick leave on my own accord I would consult an attorney to see what the implications were of the leave of absence. References: Bohlander, G. & Snell, S. (2010). Managing human resources. Mason, OH: South-Western, Cengage Learning. Cartwright, S. , & Cooper, C. L. (1997). Managing workplace stress. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Belfort, S. F. (2002). The most difficult ADA reasonable accommodation rules: reassignment and leave of absence. Retrieved from http://heinonline. org/HOL/LandingPage? collection=journals&handle=hein. journals/wflr37&div=16&id=&page=