Best Ohio Disability Discrimination Lawyer Reply: What accommodations are employers required to give their disabled employees? Who determines whether a disability work accommodation is reasonable? What can I do if my boss won’t give me a reasonable accommodation at work for my disability?
As our employment attorneys have previously blogged about, all employees are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA“) and R.C. § 4112.02(A) from being discriminated against or retaliated against by their employers on the basis of their actual or perceived disability. (See Do Disability Discrimination Laws Cover Antisocial Disorder; Can My Boss Fire Me Because He Thinks I’m Disabled?; and My Job Is Discriminates Against Me Because I’m Disabled!). This means that it is illegal for your boss, manager, or supervisor to harass or wrongfully terminate employees solely because they have a disability or perceived disability.
The ADA also requires employers to accommodate disabled employees if the accommodation permits the employee to perform the essential functions of his or her job without creating undue hardship for the employer. (See Is Working At Home A Reasonable Accommodation; ADA Law: How Do I Get A Disability Accommodation At Work?; Can I Get A Disability Accommodation?; and Does My Employer Need To Find A Job For Me If I Become Paralyzed). Examples of reasonable accommodations that employers are required to offer include acquiring or modifying equipment or devices, offering part time hours or a modified schedule, making the workplace readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities, adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials or policies, and working from home.
Recently, in Perez v. City of New York, the United States District Court for the Eastern Division of New York examined whether a position transfer was a reasonable accommodation. The employee, Kimberly A. Perez, injured her hand and wrist in workplaces accidents while working for the Fire Department of the City of New York. Perez requested a transfer to a Health Assessment Technician (“HAT”) position as a reasonable accommodation. The court explained the requirements for a reasonable accommodation as follows:
The ADA requires an employer to make reasonable accommodations for a disabled employee, unless the employer can show that such an accommodation “would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business.” 42 U.S.C. § 12112(b)(5)(A). An accommodation is not reasonable if it requires the employer to eliminate an essential function of the position. See Rodal v. Anesthesia Gm. of Onondaga, P.C., 369 F.3d 113, 120 (2d Cir. 2004). “When a plaintiff brings an action alleging that a defendant violated the ADA by failing to offer a reasonable accommodation, the claim fails unless the plaintiff establishes that an effective accommodation existed that would render her otherwise qualified.” Jackan v. N.Y. State Dep’t of Labor, 205 F.3d 562, 566 (2d Cir. 2000) (alteration removed) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). As discussed above, an effective accommodation may include, inter alia, modification of job duties, alteration of the facilities in which a job is performed, or the acquisition of devices to assist the performance of job duties. See 42 U.S.C. § 12111(9)(8). Once the plaintiff establishes such an accommodation exists, the burden shifts to the defendant to show “that the proposed accommodation would cause it to suffer an undue hardship.” See Borkowski v. Valley Cent. Sch. Dist., 63 F.3d 131, 138 (2d Cir. 1995).
The court held that there was a question of material fact (i.e. something the jury should decide), as to whether the request accommodation was reasonable and would have allowed Perez to perform an essential function of the HAT position. Thus, depending on the facts and circumstances, the jury could find that the position reassignment was a reasonable accommodation.
It is also notable that the court ignored the employer’s argument that their justifications for denying Perez’s reassignment to the HAT position were non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory. This is because the employment lawyer for the employer did not previously bring this issue up with the trial court. The court noted that the employer was “represented by sophisticated counsel” who failed to argue this issue in their initial brief. This goes to show that in employment matters, it is not only important to get a good attorney, but one that knows the ins and outs of employment law.
Having to live with a disability is difficult enough without worrying about the effect it may have on your job. If you are disabled or your employer perceives you as being disabled; and you have been fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, denied wages, or even think that you might need a disability discrimination lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation. Call our Ohio employment law attorneys at 866-797-6040. The best option is not to wait. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting disabled employees’ rights under ADA and Ohio employment law.
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