When an employer rejects an employee’s suggested reasonable accommodation, it must come up with alternatives.
An employer’s participation in the interactive process means more than simply meeting with an employee and rejecting her requested accommodation. To participate in “good faith” during the interactive process, an employer must suggest reasonable accommodations when it rejects an employee’s requested accommodation. See, Stockton v. N.W. Airlines, 804 F.Supp.2d 938 (D. Minn. 2011) (Summary judgment denied: “There is a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether [employee] could have been reasonably accommodated, but for [employer’s] lack of good faith.” The evidence included the employer rejecting employee’s accommodation suggestions out of hand and not offering other suggestions.).
In Colwell v. Rite Aid Corp., 602 F.3d 495 (3d. Cir. 2010), the Court stated that a jury could find that the employer failed to negotiate in good faith about a reasonable accommodation, because at every opportunity the supervisor flatly turned down the requested accommodation and failed to offer any alternatives.
Similarly, in Miller v. Illinois Dep’t of Transportation, 643 F.3d. 190 (7th Cir. 2011), a bridge worker who had acrophobia requested an accommodation of not working at heights above 20-25 feet. The Court rejected the employer’s argument that the plaintiff could not be provided such an accommodation, allowing the claims to proceed to a jury. Notably, the Court emphasized:
The ADA does not give employers unfettered discretion to decide what is reasonable. The law requires an employer to rethink its preferred practices or established methods of operation. Employers must, at a minimum, consider possible modifications of jobs, processes, or tasks so as to allow an employee with a disability to work, even where established practices or methods seem to be the most efficient or serve otherwise legitimate purposes in the workplace.
Miller, 643 F.3d at 199 (emphasis added).
Bertelson Law Offices, P.A. handles disability discrimination, retaliation, and accommodation issues. We have handled many cases involving disability discrimination and reasonable accommodation issues. We enjoy helping clients obtain reasonable accommodations and have litigated cases on behalf of clients with disabilities. Contact us at 612-278-9832 if you need assistance with getting a reasonable accommodation or have been discriminated or retaliated against because of a disability.