Some disabled employees believe it’s their right to be reasonably accommodated with a light-duty job that lets them do less work. But employers aren’t required to provide such jobs.
Recent case: Frank Shin graduated from a well-regarded medical school with grades that were good to excellent. Then he began a medical internship, which is required before final licensure as a medical doctor. He began to falter almost immediately and blamed his problems on disabilities that required him to take stimulants to stay awake.
Eventually, he was diagnosed with possible attention deficit disorder and placed on medication.
His problems persisted even though he spent many more hours at the hospital than he was supposed to in order to try to get his work done. Other residents and interns helped him cover patients, and several times doctors had to override his orders because they were wrong and might harm patients.
When Shin was told he would not be allowed to continue the internship, he sued, alleging that he was disabled and should have been reasonably accommodated with a lighter workload and more time to accomplish his tasks.
The court disagreed. It concluded that disabled employees aren’t entitled to permanent light-duty positions, and that no accommodation seemed likely to allow Shin to perform the essential functions of his job. The case was dismissed. (Shin v. University of Maryland, et al., No. 09-1126, 4th Cir., 2010)