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Using prison labor? You’re not an ’employer’ under ADA

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Absent limited circumstances, a private employer using prison labor probably isn’t required to provide reasonable accommodations under the ADA.

Recent case: William was serving a 10-year sentence for theft and had to perform 40 hours of “hard labor” each week. The prison assigned him to pick tomatoes for a private em­­ployer at $2.25 per hour.

While working, William claimed he suffered severe pain in his leg and demanded reasonable accommodations. The employer refused and William sued both the prison and the private company, alleging failure to accommodate.

The court said the company wasn’t a covered employer under the ADA since it didn’t technically employ William. His labor belonged to the prison, since that was part of William’s sentence. (Castle v. Eurofresh, et al., No. 11-1794, 9th Cir., 2013)

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