Minor malady could hinder performance? Always look for easy accommodations

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Hiring,Human Resources

Be careful before revoking a job offer based on a physical exam. Consider reasonable accommodations instead.

Recent case: When Brian Black interviewed with Mission Hospital for a position as a technical software engineer, he must have seemed like a good candidate because he was offered the job. After Black accepted, he underwent a medical exam, which showed he had limited color acuity.

Black claims he was called to dis­­cuss the colorblindness and re­­quested a reasonable accommodation of having someone change the icon colors on hospital software so he could see them. Instead, the company re­­scinded the offer, allegedly telling Black that the reason was his color­blindness. It said it would be too hard to fix the icons.

He sued, alleging disability discrimination and retaliation. A technical problem with his EEOC complaint led the court toss out the retaliation claim. However, his disability discrimination claim will go to trial. (Black v. Mission Hospital, No. 1:11-CV-146, WD NC, 2011)

Final note: Imagine how this will play in front of a jury. Here’s someone who was obviously qualified for the job (after all, he received a job offer) who was summarily rejected because of colorblindness.

The hospital should have at least considered a reasonable accommodation instead of dismissing the suggestion out of hand as too expensive or difficult. At a minimum, it should have used actual dollar figures to document why the accommodation would be unreasonable.

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