The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Americans with Disabilities
Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) prohibit
disability discrimination against individuals with a disability in the terms and conditions of employment.
This includes people with any medical, physiological, or psychiatric condition
that substantially limits a major life activity. As part of the ADA and
ADAAA employers are required to make an effort to “reasonably accommodate”
qualified individuals with disabilities. To “reasonably accommodate”
means different actions in different work situations, but has been found
to include changing your starting work time by a couple of minutes, making
alterations to your workspace, or giving you a phone amplifier if you
are hard of hearing.
In a recent New York case,
Nixon-Tinkelman v. New York City Dep’t of Health and Mental Hygiene, a woman who is hearing-impaired and has cancer, heart problems, and asthma
claimed she suffered disability discrimination when her employer failed
to accommodate her by assisting with her commute after transferring her
place of work from Queens to Manhattan. The trial court had determined
that because commuting falls outside of the scope of a person’s
job, assisting with Nixon-Tinkelman’s commute was not required under the ADA.
The appeals court disagreed, stating “[A]n employer may have an obligation
to assist with an employee’s commute….[T]here is nothing
inherently unreasonable … in requiring an employer to furnish an
otherwise qualified disabled employee with assistance related to her ability
to get to work.” The court also noted that the actions necessary
to accommodate a commute vary on a case-by-case basis, so what is “reasonable”
depends on each individual’s situation.
Here, Nixon-Tinkelman had worked in a more suitable location for many years
before her employer decided to transfer her, so the district court should
have considered whether her employer could have complied with the ADA
by transferring her back to her original location, providing the option
to work at home, or even giving her a car to get to work.
If you have a disability or other serious medical condition you may be
protected by the ADA and ADAAA. This means that your employer must take
steps to reasonably accommodate your disability. The failure to make an
effort to take reasonable steps may constitute a violation.
If you have questions about the ADA, ADAAA, or believe you may have been
discriminated against, contact our dedicated
Atlanta disability discrimination lawyers. Our
Georgia employment attorneys at The Buckley Law Firm, LLC are very experienced in disability cases
and will fight to eradicate disability discrimination in your workplace.