Had I represented the plaintiff in this case, I would’ve found a way to incorporate this .gif into my brief opposing the employer’s motion for summary judgment.
Poor, poor Diane St. Amour.
She worked for a hospital in Connecticut until, she claims, she was forced to quit.
So, what caused Ms. St. Amour to … wait for it .. lose that loving feeling. Well, according to the district court’s opinion in Amour v. Lawrence & Memorial Corp., many of the plaintiff’s co-workers were savages. I’m not saying Lord of the Flies, but just really nasty, bullies. And, that didn’t do wonders for the plaintiff’s hypertension. Actually, the boorish behavior exacerbated her disability to the point where she needed multiple leaves of absence from work. Ultimately, the plaintiff’s doctor recommended that she return to work only if she would be assigned to an alternative position, report to a new supervisor, and be treated in a respectful, professional fashion.
The hospital did not accommodate that request. Indeed, it didn’t seem like the hospital did much at all. Sure, it investigated plaintiff’s complaints against her co-workers and even told them to knock it off. However, the hospital declined to change the plaintiff’s work schedule because because doing so would invite other employees to express dissatisfaction about their schedules.
We might have an Americans with Disabilities Act violation here.
Why, you ask? Well, tell ’em District Judge Jeffrey Alker Meyer (not related to me, but, with that surname, assume he’s as witty as he is handsome):
Because a reasonable jury could conclude that plaintiff’s request [for a modified work schedule] was a reasonable one, the defendant’s denial of that request could violate the ADA. Indeed, the undisputed evidence shows that when she made this request, the Hospital denied it out of hand. The Hospital attempts to justify its out-of-hand denial of her request by stating that plaintiff’s other demands—requesting to work in another department and to be placed on paid administrative leave—were per se unreasonable. But that some of plaintiff’s demands overreached does not excuse the Hospital from the requirement that it engage in the interactive process designed to ferret out the potentially unreasonable aspects of plaintiff’s demands, especially where plaintiff also helpfully suggested a reasonable accommodation. A reasonable jury could conclude that, under the facts of this case, plaintiff requested a reasonable accommodation which was then denied by the Hospital; this remains true even though plaintiff’s request for a schedule change came in the context of her complaints of sexual harassment.
In other words, take all requests for workplace accommodations seriously. And, while some requests for accommodations may seem unreasonable, the court’s opinion reinforces the importance of parsing through them, in good faith, with the requesting employee, to see what reasonableness may be buried within.
Alternatively, where the employer proposes an effective, reasonable accommodation that allows the employee to perform the essential functions of the job, then the employer has discharged is duty to accommodate under the ADA.