Is my case considered discriminatory under the ADA law?

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Is my case considered discriminatory under the ADA law?

I have Meniere’s disease, which causes frequent and variable vertigo attacks and notified my present employer about it. Due to this, yesterday, HR called me and said that I cannot come back to work unless I have a release to work form from my doctor for Meniere’s symptoms. Fine, so I had my doctor do just that. So my doctor informs me that he would like me to return to work with reasonable accommodations, so as a result I was okay go back to work today. Today I am

walking to work, HR calls and says I can’t come in because I need a full release without accommodations. Note, it is not paid and I would have to use my sick and vacation time.

Asked on December 2, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, District of Columbia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

It *may* be: it depends on what your job is. A "reasonable accommodation" is one that lets you do your job safely and efficiently and which is not too expensive or disruptive for your employer, and which lets you do the job without putting them at risk (e.g. liability) or posing a risk to other persons.
So, say you are customer service, data entry, accounts payable--the vertigo is not really any problem. If you have a job where you often stand, but where having something to sit or lean on, or being able to step for a moment when you have vertigo, is not a problem, then a reasonable accommodation should allow you to work without undue risk or disruption--so if you are a cashier or floor person in a retail store who is normally on his/her feet, but who could sit when vertigo strikes, they'd have to accommodate you.
But say you have a job where an attack of vertigo can be dangerous: you work in a warehouse, and are on ladders, on a lift, or drive a forklift; you operate machinery or drive a vehicle; your work a production line where having a vertigo attack could cause you to fall into a conveyor belt; etc. In those cases, you simply can't do your job safetly if prone to vertigo, and your employer *could* require full clearance before allowing you to work.
So whether this is illegal disability-based discrimination or not depends on your job. There are simply some jobs that cannot be done with some conditions and, conversely, many jobs you can, especially with a reasonable accommodation. Which your job is determines whether you have a case or not.


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