Posts Tagged ‘vacant position’

EEOC Sues D.C. Hospital for Not Allowing Employee to Return to Work Using a Cane

Employers can be on thin legal ice if they insist on an employee obtaining a complete medical clearance as a condition of being allowed to return to work. If the employee is able to return to work with the aid of an assistive device, such as a cane, then the employer should find a way to reasonably accommodate the employee.

The failure to do so is an ADA violation, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC is now putting that principle to the test with yesterday’s announcement that it has sued Providence Hospital, located in Washington D.C. over its treatment of an employee who was returning to work following a disability-related injury.

According to the lawsuit, Louise McFadden worked for Providence Hospital starting in 2005.  McFadden worked as a medical assistant in the hospital’s Center for Life, a unit that provides obstetrical and gynecological care for women and expectant mothers.  In March 2011, McFadden returned to work following a disability-related injury.

According to the EEOC, McFadden was cleared to work full-time but was told that she had to use a cane to walk.  There were vacant positions at the hospital that McFadden could have been placed into as an accommodation for her disability.  Providence Hospital, however, would not allow McFadden to return to work in any capacity until she received medical clearance to return to work without the use of a cane.  McFadden was placed on medical leave and discharged on August 24, 2011 after her leave was exhausted.

This was an ADA violation, the EEOC charged, because Providence Hospital had an obligation to reassign McFadden to a vacant position that she could perform.

For more information, here’s the EEOC’s announcement.

7th Cir: Preferential Assignment Policy OK Under ADA

Does the Americans With Disabilities Act require an employer to reassign an employee who is need of an accommodation?

No, ruled the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit this week.  In this case, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed an ADA suit against United Airlines, challenging its guidelines placing an employee needing an accommodation in a competitive bidding process.

In this situation, United Airlines doesn’t automatically transfer the employee to a vacant position; rather, it gives the employee preference over similarly qualified applicants.

The Seventh Circuit said this is not an ADA violation, since the statute does not mandate reassignment of an employee who, because of a disability, cannot perform a job’s essential functions without an accommodation.

Here’s the full text of the ruling.