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Cooperation, patience can stop ADA claims

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Sometimes, supposedly disabled employees try to play their employers by piling on new, incessant demands for reasonable ADA accommodations.

For better or worse, it’s often best to just go along, especially if the accommodation won’t cost much. It could keep you out of court.

Recent case: Rudy Saravia worked for Los Angeles County as a clerk in the pest control bureau. His job consisted largely of answering the phones, taking messages and passing them on to inspectors and entering inspection certificate information into the computer system.

When inspectors complained that they weren’t receiving their messages, a new director took a look. He discovered that Saravia was also far behind in entering information into the computer system. Others were assigned to help and the backlog was cleared.

But the backlog soon built up again. This time, the director took a careful look at Saravia’s other tasks and concluded he had plenty of time to perform the job. Saravia responded by going to his desk and spending a day entering information as fast as he could. Then he went to his doctor … and went on medical leave for two years for a variety of ailments he claimed were caused by his work.

He was finally cleared to return to work with restrictions, all of which the employer accommodated while placing him on a performance improvement plan. Accommodations included an ergonomic workstation and chair, plus special computer equipment. None seemed to work, and Saravia was terminated.

He sued, alleging failure to accommodate. But the court tossed out his case, concluding that the county had granted every accommodation he requested. (Saravia v. Los Angeles, No. B219489, Court of Appeal of California, 2010)

Final note: The employer’s patience was rewarded.

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