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Use flextime schedule to curtail requests for unreasonable ADA accommodations

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

One possible accommodation for disabled employees is a modified schedule that lets them take medications at prescribed times. To facilitate that, you may want to create a companywide flexible-schedule program. Doing so may mean a disabled employee won’t be entitled to any additional schedule changes.

Recent case: New York City employee Rodney McMillan has schizophrenia, a condition he controls with medication. The meds induce sleep and sometimes make it hard for him to wake up in the morning, contributing to a chronic tardiness problem.

The city has a flextime program that allows employees to arrive at work within an hour of their scheduled start time. The program also adds a 15-minute grace period to that hour. Thus, McMillan could arrive as late as 10:15 a.m. under the plan, yet was late 182 times in a one-year period. That added up to 18 seven-hour workdays.

When the city disciplined McMillan, he sued, alleging he had been denied the reasonable accommodation of arriving even later in the day. He argued that schedule changes are one of the accommodations the ADA specifically provides.

The city argued that it was already providing flexibility and that later starts would impede necessary work. Therefore, it reasoned that any additional changes were unreasonable.

The court agreed and dismissed McMillan’s case. (McMillan v. City of New York, No. 10-Civ-4806, SD NY, 2011)

Final note: The result might have been different if New York City of­­­fered no flexibility. Instead, the flextime showed that it was being reasonable.

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