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Settling ADA claim: Good records essential when offering money in exchange for resignation

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Are you considering settling an ADA accommodations case by paying a lump sum? Do you think the employee could do his job with an accommodation?

Then keep good records of your accommodations process, the medical records you used to consider possible accommodations and other information about the employee, his job and his abilities.

You may need that information if he later applies for disability retirement.

With good records, you just might be able to show that the employee isn’t disabled enough to qualify for benefits.

Recent case: John resigned from his state agency job in exchange for a lump sum payment of $350,000 to settle a claim that the agency had refused to reasonably accommodate his disability.

The agency admitted that it had not provided him with the right ergonomic equipment and a proper chair to help him work at a service counter.

The settlement amount was conditioned on John’s resignation. The payout would have been less if he had accepted the accommodation.

A few years later, John applied for disability retirement benefits, alleging he was permanently and totally disabled.

He didn’t get the benefits because it was clear from the records that he could have been accommodated with the right equipment. That meant he wasn’t permanently and totally disabled. (Headley v. Board of Los Angeles City Employees Retirement System, No. B249107, Court of Appeal of California, 2015)

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