No employer duty to provide ‘Perfect’ accommodation
Do you have a difficult disabled employee who seems to need constant care and attention and whose accommodations requests border on the ridiculous? Maybe it’s time to decide those requests are unreasonable.
Here’s how to handle the situation:
- Get documentation showing the employee does, in fact, have a disability. For guidance on particular illnesses or conditions, check out the EEOC web site at www.eeoc.gov.
- Review prior accommodation requests. Make sure you can document when the request occurred, your response and the accommodation.
- Determine whether the latest request is reasonable by looking at prior requests and whether they were effective. Did the accommodation help the employee perform the essential functions of his or her job? How much did it cost, in dollars and time?
- If nothing is helping, and if the employee’s performance is subpar, consider discussing either a transfer to a position the employee can perform—or termination.
Recent case: Linda Kaufmann went to work for GMAC Mortgage. Within days, she complained that perfume her co-workers used was causing nosebleeds and difficulty breathing. Kaufmann’s supervisor then asked everyone to refrain from using perfume and moved Kaufmann’s desk. When Kaufmann’s reactions continued, the company bought her an air filter and fan, moved her desk again and changed all air filters in the building. The company even instituted a fragrance-free policy.
Finally, as Kaufmann’s performance deteriorated and she used up all available leave, GMAC decided to discharge her for poor performance and excessive absences. She sued, alleging disability discrimination.
The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the case after determining GMAC had done all it could to provide a reasonably fragrance-free environment. (Kaufmann v. GMAC Mortgage, No. 06-3019, 3rd Cir., 2007)