You could be liable for disability bias even if ADA accommodation denial was legitimate.


Don't get overconfident because you turned down an employee's request for an ADA accommodation that you sincerely believed was unnecessary. You can still be sued--and you might lose!

You could legitimately turn down an accommodation request as unneeded and still be liable for disability discrimination based on how you otherwise treated the worker.

Recent case: Matthew has a condition called esophageal achalasia, which affects his ability to sleep, eat and digest food. When he was first hired as a custodian for Bucks County, he disclosed his disability. He soon earned a promotion to level one groundskeeper.

During 2011, he worked at Core Creek Park, which was close to his home. Sometimes the county assigned him to work at another facility, Neshaminy Manor.

Matthew didn't like the Neshaminy Manor assignments because they extended his commuting time. He claimed the commute caused more nighttime digestive problems and chest pain, reducing the amount of sleep he got. However, he offered no medical evidence or doctor's notes to back up that assertion.

Matthew took FMLA leave in the spring of 2015 to have surgery related to his esophageal achalasia. About a year later, he was disciplined for allegedly exceeding his FMLA leave.

Matthew then asserted he would need less FMLA leave if he didn't have to commute to Neshaminy Manor. He requested assignments closer to home as a reasonable accommodation of his disability. The county denied his request.

Then, about a year later, Matthew was permanently assigned to Neshaminy Manor. He again requested assignment back to Core Creek Park.

He then took four days of FMLA leave to have an endoscopy. When he returned, his supervisor requested a medical clearance to resume his duties. He got the clearance and resumed working.

Shortly after, Matthew was fired for alleged FMLA fraud and abuse that had supposedly...

To continue reading