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July 28, 2023
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In EEOC v. Charter Communications, LLC, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said that employers may be required to provide reasonable accommodations under the ADA for employees to safely commute to work. Here, a Character Communications employee had a vision disability making nighttime driving unsafe. Public transportation was not an option, so the employee requested a change to their work schedule to reduce the possibility of nighttime driving during the commute home. Charter Communications granted the request for thirty days but refused to extend it any further. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued on the employee’s behalf for failing to accommodate a disability under the ADA.
The court said an employee with a disability may be entitled to a work schedule accommodation for commuting where the commute is a prerequisite to an essential job function. In this case, physical attendance was an essential function of the job which was limited by the disability. The court, however, stopped from adopting a bright-line rule requiring accommodations for commuting. Employers, generally, have no duty to accommodate an employee with a disability for their commute to and from work. The determination of whether it is required is a “highly fact-specific inquiry that considers the needs of both employer and employee.” Before providing such an accommodation, employers are instructed to consider factors like the efficacy of the proposed accommodation, its effects on the employer’s business operations, effects on other employees’ workloads and schedules, and effects on seniority systems and collective bargaining systems.
- Review procedures for granting and denying reasonable accommodations.
- Have appropriate personnel trained on the requirements.
- Consult with legal counsel prior to denying a request for reasonable accommodations.
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