West Virginia Auto Dealership Learns Expensive Lesson in ADA Compliance and Meaning of Reasonable Accomodations

December 20th, 2011 by

A West Virginia auto dealership learned a very expensive, $56,000 plus legal fees, lesson in ADA compliance this month.  The dealership settled a federal disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on December  16, 2011.  The EEOC had charged that Jim Robinson Ford-Lincoln-Mercury  unlawfully refused to accommodate the disability of a salesperson and then fired  him.

The EEOC charged that Jim Robinson  Ford fired Bryan Perry because of his disability, a leg condition that affected  his ability to walk, after denying him a reasonable accommodation. Such alleged conduct violates the Americans  with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In addition to the $56,000 in  monetary relief paid to Perry, the three-year consent decree resolving the  lawsuit enjoins Jim Robinson Ford from engaging in any further employment  practice that discriminates based on disability or retaliation. In addition, the decree mandates that the  company will adopt certain procedures and training to enable it to accurately  assess whether disabled employees can perform the essential functions of their  jobs and to identify reasonable accommodations that will assist disabled  employees, according to the EEOC press release.

Under the ADA, if an employer is asked to provide reasonable accommodations to a disabled employee the employee must establish what are truly essential and what are non-essential functions of the job.  This requirement is just one of the many reasons why it is so important for a company to have accurate and complete job description for each position.  Employers are also required to make reasonable accommodations with the intent being to balance good process practices, monetary concerns and the requirements of the job.  The ADA does not provide a specific definition of what is a reasonable accommodation since what is a considered reasonable will depend on the facts and circumstances of a particular situation. Reasonable accommodation may include modifying work schedules, making physical changes to the work site or equipment, adjusting supervisory methods, modifying a workplace policy, restructuring a job, providing a job coach, and/or reassigning an employee to a vacant position for which (s)he is qualified.  Reasonable accommodation does not require lowering performance standards or removing essential functions of the individual’s job.

Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., of the EEOC’s Philadelphia  District Office, commented “The  employer must then work to identify a reasonable accommodation for the  employee’s disability. Earnest, interactive  communication with the employee, viewing the purpose of the job and its  functions realistically, and carefully researching and considering options for reasonable  accommodation of the disability are all keys to ADA compliance.”

In  Fiscal Year 2011, the EEOC received a record 99,947 private-sector workplace  discrimination charges, the highest number of charges in the agency’s 46-year  history.

Further  information about this case is available at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/12-16-11.cfm

To download a free template to create job descriptions go to http://www.kpaonline.com/what-we-do/hr/hr-resources/whitepapers.html


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One Response to “West Virginia Auto Dealership Learns Expensive Lesson in ADA Compliance and Meaning of Reasonable Accomodations”

  1. Jonathan says:

    Really it’s a appreciate step taken by EEOC – Employment Opportunity Commission to give the proper right to the employees. These rules must be followed for any disabled employee. It would be more appreciated if the ADA could mentioned some of the reasonable accommodation should be given to a disabled employee by the employer.

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