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Paul Cronan and New England Telephone Company

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1. Identification of the "critical or relevant facts" from the case"

Paul Cronan was working for New England Telephone Company while diagnosed with ARC - Aids Related Complex and started showing symptoms of AIDS. His supervisors started to get concern with his job performance and health due to his very poor attendance, and the increased amount of absences. During spring 1985, Paul had requested permission on two different days to leave work due to a doctor's appointment. Paul's supervisor Charles O'Brian refused to grant him permission a third time, unless he informs him on the reason for the appointment. Charles O'Brian told Paul Cronan that it is company practice to inform the person's supervisor of any matter which could involve affecting the attendance of an employee. Charles O'Brian insisted on knowing the nature of the doctor's visits. He promised Paul Cronan that the information would be held in confidence.

Charles O'Brian instructed Paul Cronan to see the New England Telephone Company's doctor. The doctor determined that he had AIDS and recommended to see a psychiatrist. Within the company it became public news that he had AIDS. Other employees were getting afraid of the chance of getting AIDS from Paul Cronan. Paul Caronan started to feel very unsafe to return to work and had requested a medical leave. He soon started receiving sickness benefits. Paul Cronan's physician sent a medical certificate stating that he was considered disabled for an estimated time frame of three months. The benefits for being disabled was approved for the three months and then extended for 9 months.

Paul Cronan decided to sue New England Telephone Company for discrimination against his disability. It was decided by Paul Cronan to settle out of court and they had reached an agreement to let him return to work, and reach a financial settlement. They agreed to reassign Paul Cronan to a new facility in Needham. They also denied all of the allegations and had admitted to no wrong doing. New England Telephone Company agreed to educate the new workers about AIDS at the new facility in Needham.

New England Telephone Company held an education meeting between workers and AIDS medical specialists. The doctors informed the employees there was no way AIDS can be transmitted with casual contract. The first day that Paul Cronan returned to work he was exposed to threats from his coworkers because of his sexuality and illness. Many workers filed a grievance with their union which protested his reinstatement as a violation with the health and safety agreement of the employees contract. The employees requested if they could receive their daily assignments outside in their trucks instead of inside the office to reduce the chance of contacting with Cronan because of the fact that they felt threatening about getting AIDS. When the company declined the request, it led to a walk out of 29 employees. The employees felt unsafe and did not want to risk their health with the chance of contact with Paul Cronan.

2. What are the key issues?

The legal issue: Is it legal to discriminate Paul Cronan because of his disability to protect other employees.

3. What are the "legal rules" that apply in this case.

Paul Cronan was discriminated against the company New England Telephone Company because of his discrimination. According to the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act it is against the law to discriminate a person on the basis of color, race, sex, disability, age, and national origin. If a company makes an employment decision based on people with disabilities that is considered discrimination.

Titles I and V of the American Disabilities Act, states that "a qualified individual with a disability is someone who satisfies skills, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of the position held or desired and who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential function of that person." (1)




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