Dear Evil HR Lady,
I have an employee who drinks a LOT of water – probably well over a gallon a day while she’s at work. This means that every 30 minutes she’s either in the bathroom, or filling her water glass. I’ve recommended combining these into her break or bringing a jug to keep at her desk, but then she’ll ask if that means I’m not going to allow her to go to the bathroom when she needs to.
We’re a health oriented company, so telling an employee they can’t drink as much water as they want kind of goes against our wellness ideals.
This person is struggling to get her work done and has a hard time focusing on her tasks, and I believe that the constant water/bathroom breaks have become an excuse to get away from her desk.
This person is also pregnant, but the water issue has been going on for months before she found out about the baby. It’s just gotten worse, because she’s now three months along and using that as another excuse for her constant bathroom breaks since the day after she took the test. It could be legitimate as I’ve never been pregnant, but the other moms in my department have clearly stated that they didn’t experience the bladder pressure until much later in their pregnancies. Yes, the rest of my team is noticing and commenting. But I’m not a doctor so I can’t diagnose this as a pregnancy-related symptom.
We’re a phone based department, so coverage is an issue.
I’ve been addressing the performance issues with her, but am afraid that if it gets to the point where we let her go, she’ll come back with some type of wild discrimination issue over not being able to go to the bathroom/drink water. I wouldn’t be surprised if she tried a pregnancy discriminahttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giftion suit, though I have had other pregnant women in the department in the past where we were able to work out very successful plans to accommodate them reasonably – but they were still performing at a high level. I don’t want to go to our HR department without a good idea of what to do as they tend to be ineffective.
I have asked if there is a medical reason why she needs so much water. She says no, that she just likes water.
What would you advise? Am I missing something here? I’m stumped!
To read the answer click here: Does My Employee Have a Medical Problem or a Performance Problem?