The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) “does not require the employer to provide every accommodation a disabled employee may request.” D’Eredita v. ITT Corp., 370 Fed. Appx. 139, 141 (2d Cir. 2010). The accommodation provided, however, must be “reasonable.” Id.
In fact, employers may be, depending on the circumstances, required to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees’ commute to and from work. Nixon-Tinkelman v. New York City Dep’t of Health and Mental Hygiene 434 F. App’x 17 (2d Cir. 2011). “Determining whether a particular commuting accommodation is reasonable normally involves a fact-specific inquiry.” Id.
In Nixon-Tinkelman, the plaintiff, who had cancer, heart problems, asthma, and a hearing impairment, brought suit under the ADA alleging that her employer failed to reasonably accommodate her disability. Specifically, following her transfer from Queens to Manhattan, the plaintiff complained about the over-60-minute commute via public transportation, and requested that the defendant accommodate her by transferring her back to an office location closer to her home in Queens. The defendant ultimately denied the plaintiff’s request, claiming that commuting was outside of the scope of her job.
However, the Second Circuit held that certain circumstances may require an employer to provide commuting assistance to a disabled employee, and furthermore, that providing such assistance is not “inherently unreasonable.” The court stated that because job performance relies on attendance, the defendant must consider measures that allow the disabled employee to get to and from work, including “transferring her back to Queens or another closer location, allowing her to work from home, or providing a car or parking permit.” Id. at 20.
The court noted that the defendant should also “consider factors such as the number of employees employed by [the defendant], the number and location of its offices, whether other available positions existed for which [the plaintiff] showed that she was qualified, whether she could have been shifted to a more convenient office without unduly burdening [the defendant]’s operations, and the reasonableness of allowing her to work without on-site supervision.” Id.
If you are a disabled employee and your employer recently denied your request for a reasonable accommodation, it’s crucial that you immediately consult with a New York City employment attorney to learn about, and preserve, all your legal rights.