When a qualified individual with a disability makes a reasonable accommodation request, the employer has a duty, under the ADA, to consider and evaluate it. This is pretty straightforward and known as the “interactive process.” Unfortunately, a printing company fired a long-time & capable employee who had been diagnosed with cancer without going through this informal procedure. He exhausted his time under its short-term disability insurance policy. The policy provided 26 weeks of leave within a rolling 12-month period. Prior to the exhaustion of his leave, the employee returned back and began working part-time hours while he received chemotherapy. He was able to perform all of the essential functions of his job. When the employee’s benefit was exhausted under the policy, the company summarily terminated him and made him eligible for rehire once he was able to work full-time.
At the time of the discharge, the EEOC said, the employee requested an accommodation to continue working part-time until his chemotherapy ended about five months later. The company acknowledged the request, but applied the policy nonetheless without considering any other factors. The company will pay the employee $55,000.
Please note: the fact that the company eventually rehired the employee did not excuse the original violation, according to the EEOC. When an employee makes a request for an accommodation, and before making any business decision, the employer must have a conversation to determine the employee’s ability to perform the job, the reasonableness of his request, and if the request provides an undue hardship to the company. Failing to do so violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
This information should not be construed as “legal advice” for a particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended only to be a practical guide for participants familiar with this subject. Users should seek appropriate legal advice tailored to address their specific situation.