Fact or Fiction: The ADA requires accommodating an employee to care for a relative with a disability?

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That’s right folks. It’s time for another edition of “Fact or Fiction” a/k/a “Quick Answers to Quick Questions” a/k/a QATQQ f/k/a “I don’t feel like writing a long blog post.”

Here’s the fact pattern with which we will work today.

  • You hire someone new for a full-time 8-hr/day 40-hr/week position.
  • A few weeks later, your new employee requests a part-time work schedule so that he can spend extra time caring for his daughter who is suffering from [insert name of disability].
  • Because he is a new hire, this employee is not FMLA-eligible, but his daughter definitely has a disability.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act requires you to accommodate an employee with a disability where doing do will allow the individual to perform the essential functions of the job without creating an undue hardship.

But, under the ADA, do you have to accommodate someone whose kid has a disability?

The answer is no. Indeed, this recent NY federal court opinion confirms that. However, there are some caveats:

  1. You cannot discriminate against an employee because of his or her association with someone who has a disability. In plain English, you can’t fire someone because you’re concerned that they will not be able to perform the job because of their caretaker responsibilities. In nerd-legal, we call that associational discrimination.
  2. If the employee is FMLA-eligible, well, duh!
  3. There may be other state or local laws that create a duty to accommodate.

But, the answer to today’s fact or fiction is: FICTION!

“Doing What’s Right – Not Just What’s Legal”