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Sometimes, accommodating disability just isn’t possible

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

When an employee is disabled, the ADA requires employers to try to find accommodations that will help her perform her job’s essential functions.

However, sometimes, that’s just not possible. There may be no practical way to accommodate some disabilities. If that’s the case, termination may the only reasonable option.

Recent case: Jodie, a call-center customer service rep for Amazon, scored far lower than other associates on customer satisfaction surveys. She received many complaints about her “tone of voice.”

Jodie took frequent medical leaves for painful ailments including migraine headaches.

She was eventually fired. She sued, alleging she was that she was disabled and should have been accommodated. She argued that her constant pain affected her ability to converse with customers, leading to the “tone of voice” complaints.

The court dismissed Jodie’s case, noting that she had provided no medical evidence that more time off, or any other accommodation, would help with the tone problem. Nor could she point to another Amazon job within her skill set that would not require her to communicate with customers. Therefore, there was no possible accommodation for her disability. (Kelley v. Amazon, No. 13-36114, 9th Cir., 2016)

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