While employers need to be rather careful when employees make requests for accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the recent decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in McDonald v. UAW-GM is rather instructive for employers.
In this case, the employer did engage with the employee to work on finding a reasonable accommodation that would work for both employer and employee. However, the accommodations proposed by the employer, despite seeming to fit with the employee's doctor's recommendation, were rejected by the employee. Unfortunately for the employee, as the appellate court noted, the ADA does not require that employers provide a specifically requested accommodation, but rather to work with the employee to find an accommodation that works for both.
"Extra Long Lunch for a Workout" Accommodation
The accommodation in this case might be a bit head-turning. McDonald's requested accommodation was an extra half hour for lunch so that she could work out for more than 30 minutes during her lunch break. According to her doctor, her disability would benefit from that.
Notably, the employer had an onsite gym, and it was common practice for employees to work out during lunch. Additionally, employees could, at the start of each year, decide if they wanted a 30-minute lunch break or an hour-long lunch break. However, the plaintiff had opted for the 30-minute lunch and sought to change that via a request for accommodation.
Quit First, Sue Later?
One of the terminal facts in the McDonald case involved the plaintiff quitting before the completion of the interactive process.
Curiously, after rejecting the employer's proposed accommodation of starting later so that she could get the workout in before the day started, she was told that her requested accommodation was likely to be approved. After that, but before the accommodation was actually approved, she attempted to take an hour lunch, got busted, and swore at the buster. She was suspended for that, and rather than return from the suspension, she quit.