Sometimes disabled employees and their employers have different views of the accommodations needed to do their jobs. Fortunately, it’s up to the employer, not the employee, to pick the accommodation. Simply put, the employee isn’t the master of the accommodation—the employer is.
Recent case: Stephen Moore worked for Accenture until he became disabled and couldn’t perform his job. The company had a disability policy that allowed newly disabled employees to take time off while retaining their health, dental and life insurance coverage. Moore worked for five years but then was off for 12 years while still covered by the company’s insurance plans.
When Accenture told all its disabled employees they had to return to work or lose coverage, Moore sent a letter demanding that he be accommodated with a paying job within his restrictions.
The company refused, but told him he could keep the insurance as a reasonable accommodation.
Moore sued, alleging refusal to accommodate. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out the case. It reasoned that by extending the insurance coverage, Accenture did reasonably accommodate Moore. The fact that he wanted a different accommodation was irrelevant. (Moore v. Accenture, No. 06-15650, 11th Cir., 2007)
Final note: This case may be an example of the perils of being too generous. Many other cases clarify that an indefinite leave of absence isn’t required as a reasonable accommodation. This employer offered one and, because it did, was sued to obtain an even better accommodation.