Q: I authorized a top-performing full-time employee to work part-time so she can go to school. Another employee, who is aware of the accommodation I granted, has asked to switch to part-time so she too can go to school. I do not want to grant the accommodation to her because her performance has not been good. Is it okay to be inconsistent here?
A: In most situations, consistency is very important. However, you minimize risk by having a solid, defensible, business-related reason for granting a request in one case but not in another.
If you believe, based on the employee’s performance, that she could not satisfactorily complete the essential functions of the job with part-time hours, you could deny the request based on performance. Just be sure that you have documented the performance concerns and that you can reasonably explain why part-time hours would worsen performance. You will also want to be certain that the employee whose request was granted does not have any similar performance issues.
A final note: if the underperforming employee were to improve her performance in the future, it would be in your best interest to review her request again.
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