• LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+

Worker must choose: Totally disabled or disabled needing accommodations

Get PDF file

by on
in Employment Law,Human Resources

An individual who applies for disability benefits, asserting that she is totally disabled, can still claim she’s entitled to reasonable accommodations under the ADA.

However, she will have some explaining to do.

For example, she will have to show that, unless she is granted a reasonable accommodation, she’d be unable to do her job.

If that’s not the case, she can’t both assert she’s unable to work and also entitled to accommodations to work.

Recent case: Crystal worked for the Soo Line Railroad. She was injured in an automobile accident unrelated to her job.

She eventually came back to work, but with lifting restrictions that limited what she could do. She was placed in a position as a garnishment and wage clerk. When faced with 500 documents to file away, she protested that this task went beyond her medical restrictions.

Around the same time, Crystal applied for disability payments and asserted in her application that she was totally and completely disabled by a number of conditions, including “schizoaffective disorder, anxiety, personality disorder and myofascitis.”

When she sued for disability discrimination, the railroad said Crystal couldn’t have it both ways. She couldn’t claim she was fit to work and just needed an accommodation for lifting and filing papers, while at the same time claiming that debilitating psychological disorders made it impossible to work.

Crystal was unable to explain away the discrepancy and her lawsuit was dismissed. (Grosch v. Soo Line Railroad Company, Court of Appeals of Minnesota, 2017)

Leave a Comment