Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

May 19, 2010

Shift change may be a reasonable accommodation under ADA

Disability 

Allowing a part-time retail clerk to work only on day shift might be a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ruled a federal appeals court. Blindness in one eye made it difficult for the clerk to drive to her job at Rite Aid at night. The employer argued that getting to work was the employee’s responsibility, so it shouldn’t have to discuss accommodation options related to the employee’s commute. The court looked at the situation differently, saying that the hours of work are fully within the employer’s control. The case will now go to a jury to decide whether accommodating the clerk’s request would be an undue hardship to the company (Colwell v. Rite Aid Corp., 3rd Cir, April 2010).

 

Tips: If a disabled employee asks for a different shift as an accommodation, you should carefully consider the request and document your reasoning. Often, the person making the request has lower seniority than the people who are already on the desired shift. You don’t have to violate a strict seniority clause in a labor agreement or in your own company policy. But you may have to ask whether more senior employees would be willing to trade. For more information, see our Legal Guide, “ADA and Seniority” (2538).

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