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The reasonable accommodation through reassignment of a qualified employee with a disability takes precedence over voluntary affirmative action plans, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in a Jan. 31 opinion letter, meaning an employer must reassign such an employee to a vacant position rather than hire a minority female who would otherwise receive the job under the voluntary plan.

“The existence of a voluntary plan alone would not constitute an undue hardship within the meaning of the ADA,” Associate Legal Counsel Peggy R. Mastroianni wrote. “Therefore, the employer must offer the position to the employee with a disability. This is true regardless of whether the minority female candidate is currently an employee or someone outside the organization.”

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