Company Withdraws Job Offer Due to Surgery
#SITA Information Networking Computing USA, Inc., an #Atlanta-based air transport communications and information technology company, was offered a position as a full-time personal assistant to SITA's vice president. Shortly after accepting the offer, she found out that she would require #cancer #surgery, and requested a reasonable accommodation of having her start date moved. SITA accommodated this request. When her extended start date arrived, she requested that she be allowed to work part-time for the first two weeks to complete her recovery. As a result of this request, SITA rescinded its employment offer.
The #EEOC alleged that SITA's conduct violated the #ADA, which prohibits employers from refusing to reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities.
After the EEOC started the lawsuit, the woman intervened with private counsel. SITA and this new employee resolved her claims for monetary relief prior to the filing of the consent decree settling the lawsuit. In both the lawsuit and consent decree, SITA denied any liability or wrongdoing. The decree includes anti-#discrimination and anti-#retaliation provisions, as well as equal employment opportunity training and reporting and posting of anti-discrimination notices.
The “take-away” from this situation is the importance for a company to engage in an interactive dialogue with its employees about reasonable accommodation before any employment decision is made and to determine, with objective evidence, whether or not an undue hardship (significant difficulty or expense) would result before withdrawing a job offer or terminating an employee. Providing reasonable accommodation is an ongoing process and not a “one time” occurrence. SITA agreed to delay her start date, but chose to fire the woman after her second request (working part time for the first two weeks) rather than discuss the request with her. Did this this latter request pose an undue hardship for the company? Was another option possible? Or, will the EEOC lawsuit conclude that SITA violated the ADA by failing to “consider” a reasonable accommodation? Stay tuned.
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