You don’t need to accept disabled employee’s preferred accommodation—just a reasonable one

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Disabled employees and their employers often disagree about how to accommodate a disability. Employees sometimes mistakenly believe that they’re entitled to the exact accommodation they prefer. That’s just not true.

The fact is, an employer has the right to pick the accommodation it prefers—as long as that accommodation is reasonable.

Recent case:
Tim Lors, who has type 1 diabetes, was demoted from his position as a team leader. His employer said he couldn’t get along with others and wasn’t a team player. Lors was placed in a position that he believed was more stressful and made it more difficult for him to control his diabetes.

He asked to be moved back to his former job as a reasonable accommodation. Instead, his employer told him he was free to take the necessary breaks to eat, take medicine, inject insulin and measure his blood sugar levels.

Lors sued, alleging that he should have received the accommodation that would best suit his disability—the old job with less stress.

But the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his arguments. It pointed out that the accommodations he was offered were perfectly reasonable—even Lors’ doctors conceded he was able to control the diabetes under the circumstances. The court said Lors was entitled only to reasonable accommodations, and not necessarily the best or ideal one. (Lors v. Dean, et al., No. 09-1382, 8th Cir., 2010)

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