ADA Accommodation: Make Sure to Ask Before Suing

ADA Accommodation: Make Sure to Ask Before Suing OcusFocus/iStockphoto

Here’s a gratis tip for all employees: if you need a workplace accommodation, it’s best to ask for one before suing a company for failing to provide it. According to Eric Meyer over at the Employer Handbook, although amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2009 made it more employee-friendly, employers are not yet required to intuit the needs and constraints of their staff.

He cites a recent case out of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, where an employee had physical restrictions because of epilepsy. Part of his job required him to drive and make deliveries, but when he told his employer about the epilepsy, it restructured his job, and eventually placed him on leave via the Family and Medical Leave Act. When the FMLA time expired, he was terminated because the company determined he couldn’t perform essential job functions, explains Meyer. The worker sued for a failure to accommodate.

The thing is he never actually requested any accommodation from his employer. The court ruled, “A plaintiff must propose an accommodation and show that it is objectively reasonable.” Good news for accommodating (but nonomniscient) employers throughout the country.

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