Readers of this Blog will know that employers have certain duties to employees who are considered “disabled” within the meaning of state and federal anti-discrimination laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). (Best Law Read: Best Attorney Answers: Does My Employer Have to Accommodate My Epilepsy?) In formal terms, an employer has a duty to “engage in an interactive process” and to “provide a reasonable accommodation” when an employee otherwise qualified for the job requests accommodation for his or her disability. Lawyers at Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm have explained what that process looks like and what triggers that duty. (Best Law Read: What Is The Interactive Process For Disabled Employees?) As we explained, employers need not do everything each employee asks for—an accommodation must be “reasonable” and not impose an “undue hardship.” And all the “interactive process” requires is “communication and good-faith exploration of possible accommodations.” Kleiber v. Honda of Am. Mfg., 485 F.3d 862, 871 (6th Cir.2007).
How do you prove a ADA claim for failure to accommodate?
Best Workplace Accommodation Lawyer Answer: To establish a claim for failure to accommodate a disability, the employee must present evidence that: (1) the employee is disabled within the meaning of the ADA; (2) the employee is otherwise qualified for the position and could perform the essential functions of the job, with or without reasonable accommodation; (3) the employer knew or had reason to know about the employee’s disability; (4) the employee requested an accommodation; and (5) the employer failed to provide a reasonable requested accommodation. O’Donnell v. Univ. Hosps. Cleveland Med. Ctr., 833 F. App’x 605, 614 (6th Cir. 2020)
What happens when an employer and employee identify find more than one reasonable accommodation?
Best Disability Employment Lawyer Answer: While our employees’ rights attorneys have blogged about this situation before, today’s blog answers that question by examining a case from Northeast Ohio, specifically, the City of Warren. (Best Law Read: Can I Pick The ADA Accommodation I Want?; ADA Accommodation Does Not Give Employees Ability To Violate Rules).
In Stanislaw v. City of Warren, No. 4:21-CV-01029, 2022 WL 2833812 (N.D. Ohio July 20, 2022), the employee, Megan Stanislaw, worked for the City of Warren’s Water Department for nearly two decades before she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis or “MS” as some call it. Upon returning to work after her diagnosis, Stanislaw asked for a “lower stress position” to mitigate her MS symptoms. Id. at * 4. The employer listened: After it first offered Stanislaw a clerical position at the police department, which she rejected, the City let her try different jobs before she chose one as a “Data Entry Operator.” Id. The City also gave Stanislaw an “intermediary”—someone who could act as a buffer between Stanislaw and a coworker who stressed her out. Id. Despite all that, Stanislaw wanted another accommodation: to be assigned to another new role within the City’s Water Department. Id. When the City refused, Stanislaw sued for, among other things, the “failure to accommodate,” which the District Court for the Northern District of Ohio rejected.
There are three main takeaways here—two of which come directly from the court’s own words. First, the court observed that, once Stanislaw rejected the police-department role, the City’s “obligations to her under the ADA” ended because she was no longer “qualified” for the position. Second, the court rejected the idea that an employee can require her employer to give a particular accommodation. In other words, once an employer gives an accommodation that is reasonable—that is, one that allows the disabled employee to continue performing his or her job functions—the employee can either take it or risk getting no accommodation. Specifically, the court explained that, because “‘an employee cannot force her employer to provide a specific accommodation if the employer offers another reasonable accommodation,’” the City’s provided accommodations were not only “reasonable” but “in excess” of what the ADA requires.
Id. at *4. As a result, the court granted summary judgment, holding that “no reasonable jury could find that Defendant failed to grant appropriate accommodation to Plaintiff.” Id. Indeed, because the employee initially accepted the accommodation as reasonable, she could not logically argue that the many accommodations offered by the employer were not reasonable.
The last takeaway is important. That last take away is that the outcome in this case could have been different had the employee argued that she was not looking to change her current accommodation, but rather needed a new accommodation based on different medical requirements. Many attorneys will rush to sue before properly getting the case set up. Had the employee presented new medical documentation as part of asking for a new accommodation, the Court may have considered this a brand-new accommodation request requiring a new interactive process. Obviously, we don’t know what legal advice was given to this employee, but it stresses the importance of selecting the best employment law attorneys that you can find.
What should I do if my employer won’t give me a disability accommodation on my job?
Best Ohio Employment Lawyer Answer: Do not wait to get advice from an attorney. Getting the right legal help from the start can make all the difference in your case. Since every case is different, your best opportunity to prevail in a disability discrimination or failure to accommodate claim is by consulting an ADA lawyer as quickly as possible. 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. The best option is not to wait. Call our lawyers in Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Cincinnati, Youngstown, Detroit and Raleigh to get help now. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting disabled employees’ rights under ADA and Ohio employment law.
This employment law website is an advertisement. The materials available at the top of this page and on this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “how do I get an ADA accommodation from the company that I work for?”, “what kind of accommodations can I get for anxiety at work?”, “what should I do if my manager refuses to accommodate me even after I brought in a doctor’s note?” or “can my manager fire me if I ask for a disability accommodation?”, it would be best for you to contact an experienced attorney to obtain advice with respect to disability discrimination questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, attorney, Brian Spitz or any individual attorney.