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The Third Circuit holds that the Americans with Disabilities Act contemplated that employers may need to make reasonable shift changes in order to accommodate a disabled employee's disability-related difficulties in getting to work.

July 1, 2010
Colwell v. Rite Aid Corp., 602 F.3d 495 (3d. Cir. April 8, 2010)

In Colwell, the plaintiff brought suit against her former employer, alleging that she was constructively discharged in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") after her store manager failed to allow her to work exclusively during the day. There, after the plaintiff was hired and began working night shifts, she was diagnosed with retinal vein occlusion and glaucoma, leaving her blind in her left eye. Despite acknowledging that she needed no accommodation to perform her job functions, the plaintiff requested that she be switched to "day shift" as her condition rendered her unable to drive in the evenings. After the store manager was unable to schedule her exclusively during the day, the plaintiff resigned her position and filed her ADA lawsuit, alleging that her employer failed to accommodate her disability and constructively discharged her. In dismissing the plaintiff's complaint, the lower court held that "the ADA and the regulations that implement it do not require an employer to provide an employee with an accommodation that facilitates her commute to work" and further determined that she was not constructively discharged. On appeal, the Third Circuit upheld the lower court's decision that the plaintiff was not constructively discharged. The Third Circuit, however, reversed the determination that the employer had no duty to accommodate the plaintiff's request for a shift change and held "as a matter of law that changing [plaintiff's] working schedule to day shifts in order to alleviate her disability-related difficulties in getting to work is a type of accommodation that the ADA contemplates." As a result, the Third Circuit remanded the case back to the district court "for the jury to decide whether a shift change was a reasonable accommodation under the circumstances."

Case Law Alert - 3rd Qtr 2010

Affiliated Attorney

Lee C. Durivage
Shareholder
(215) 575-2584
lcdurivage@mdwcg.com

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