In a case of first impression, a New Mexico court looked at whether a woman
could sustain a case under the federal Rehabilitation Act after her employer
denied her request to transfer her from her position in Texas to one in
New Mexico to facilitate her medical treatment.
Sanchez v. Vilsak, the Tenth Circuit appellate court determined that Sanchez’ employer
must consider more than just if an accommodation is necessary to all a
worker to perform essential job functions. Instead, it’s important
that an employer consider if the request is “reasonable.”
The court found that asking for a transfer in order to get medical treatment
if in fact, a “reasonable accommodation” request under the
Specifically, Judge Carlos F. Lucero wrote: “Without resolving the
reasonableness of a transfer accommodation in this particular case, we
hold as a matter of law that transferring an employee for the purposes
of treatment or therapy may be a reasonable accommodation under the Rehabilitation
The Rehabilitation Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act provide
protections to certain qualified individuals and makes it illegal to discriminate
against workers based on disabilities as described by the Act. Covered
disabilities are those medical, physiological or psychiatric conditions
that substantially limit a major life activity. If you have questions
about the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act or believe that you may have suffered
discrimination based on a disability, it is important to seek the advice
of a knowledgeable
Atlanta discrimination lawyer right away.
In the recent disability discrimination case, Clarice Sanchez requested
a transfer to be closer to a medical facility to receive treatment after
she lost the left half of her field of vision because of work place accident.
Her employer said “no,” and asserted that federal disability
discrimination laws don’t require an employer to transfer an employee
solely for the purpose of obtaining medical treatment.
The employer also claimed that Sanchez could correct her vision impairment
by simply “turning her head.” The court rejected these arguments
and said that whether Sanchez’ vision difficulties met the requirements
of a disability (i.e. does it substantially limit a major life activity?)
under the Rehabilitation Act is a question that is best left for the jury.
This case is important because it expands the number of courts that have
determined that transfers for medical treatment fall under the Rehabilitation
Act’s intended coverage. Other federal circuits that have found
a transfer request to be a reasonable accommodation include the 1st Circuit
(covering Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico and Rhode Island).
The 7th Circuit (covering Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin) and the 9th
Circuit (Covering Alaska, Arizona California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana,
Nevada, Oregon and Washington). The 11th Circuit, which includes Georgia,
has not yet issued an opinion concerning medical treatment transfer requests.
For more information about disability discrimination or if you believe
you may have been subjected to discrimination as the result of a disability,
please contact the top
Georgia disability discrimination lawyers at the law office of The Buckley Law Firm, LLC for an immediate consultation.