The Nuances Of The Navy Yard Shooter's Mental Problems
Walter Olson blogs at Overlawyered as I have here about how HP/The Experts, Alexis' employer, knew about his "increasingly florid symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia."
Olson quotes the piece by The New York Times' Serge F. Kovaleski, who relates how Alexis' mother told The Experts of his previous paranoid behavior, advising that he "likely needed to see a therapist." After a meeting of "senior-level employees," it was concluded that he could be sent back to work:
In an e-mail message, the Experts said that a Hewlett-Packard manager in Newport said she was "comfortable" having Mr. Alexis come back to work after he reported hearing voices.
Hewlett-Packard said its manager in Newport was a low-level employee who was not given full details by the Experts about Mr. Alexis' problems. The company said it has placed that manager on administrative leave.
Olson makes a point not seen other places:
The missing angle is: what if any role was played by the legal constraints on the various entities that directly or indirectly employed Mr. Alexis? Severe mental illness is a protected condition under the ADA, and employers may not be free to take workers off their duties unless and until they can assemble evidence that would stand up in court documenting a "direct threat," "undue hardship" or other adequate reason for removal; the law places limits on the employer's right to demand medical exams to evaluate the exact contours of disability; and privacy rules limit sharing of medically relevant information between different entities, as we saw in the Seung-Hui Cho/Virginia Tech case. All these rules apply to ordinary larger private businesses, but some come in especially stringent form when applied to federal contractors.