Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

Sep 18, 2014

OREGON: Duty to accommodate didn’t extend to fitness-for-duty exam process

Disability 

An Oregon court recently dismissed a preschool teacher’s disability claim because she refused to submit to a fitness-for-duty exam.

An Oregon court recently dismissed a preschool teacher’s disability claim because she refused to submit to a fitness-for-duty exam. The teacher had obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and had reported to human resources that she was dealing with severe anxiety. Concerned about the safety of the teacher and students, the school requested that the teacher undergo a fitness-for-duty exam. To avoid an OCD flare-up triggered by the exam itself, the teacher requested an accommodation to dictate the time, place, and specific doctor to perform the exam. The school agreed to moving the date and time of the exam, but refused to allow the teacher to specify which doctor would perform the exam. The teacher refused to submit to the exam under those conditions and was terminated as a result. She subsequently filed numerous employment claims, including failure to accommodate her disability by denying her request to specify the doctor to perform the fitness-for-duty exam.

In ruling for the employer, the court determined that giving the teacher a reasonable accommodation for the fitness-for-duty exam was not required under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or state disability law. Rather, the law requires that a reasonable accommodation be made if it will allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job. The court said the employee failed to establish that her employer had a duty to accommodate her in the fitness-for-duty process (Doby v. Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon, D Or, Aug. 2014).

Tips: Under federal and state disability law, employers are required to reasonably accommodate a qualified individual with a disability to allow the individual to carry out the essential functions of the position. This may require accommodations in the job application process, the work environment, or in the benefits and privileges of employment. The process of providing a reasonable accommodation can get complicated, so check out our Legal Guide, “ADA:  Reasonable Accommodation Quick Reference” (4082) or contact your Vigilant staff representative to understand your obligations as an employer.

Comments