Can my employer deny my request for reasonable accommodation to allow me to work reduced hours if I have a disability/chronic condition?

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Can my employer deny my request for reasonable accommodation to allow me to work reduced hours if I have a disability/chronic condition?

I have rheumatoid arthritis and due to continued pain and fatigue I asked for reduced hours or a transfer. My request was ignored. I continued to ask and I was told that it was a battle that they were not willing to take on. We have over 5000 employees. Did my employer break ADA laws by not allowing me a reasonable accommodation?

Asked on April 12, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The company *may* have violated anti-employment discrimination laws by denying you the requested accommodation. Here are the issues:

1) Does rheumatoid arthritis generally, or more specifically, your particular case of it, rise to the level of a "disability"? Not every medical condition, even chronic ones, do.

2) Can the company accommodate reduced hours or a transfer at a reasonable cost (monetarily and/or in terms of distruption)? For example: if they can't have a person doing your job part time--they need a full time worker--and they also don't have a position to transfer you into (an existing position appropriate for your skills, experience, compensation, etc.), they may not have to accommodate you. A company generally does not need to invent a new position, one it does not have a need for, to give a disabled person a job.

So the issue will turn on the specific facts of your condition and your company. You need to consult with an employment attorney who can evaluate these facts in detail.

Good luck.


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