Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Employer's Refusal to Permit Work From Home Accommodation Not an ADA Violation

Whelan v. Teledyne is another interesting case I recently came across in which an employee alleged his new employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act for refusing to accommodate his request to work from home.

Edward Whelan worked in sales for many years for Teledyne Metal Working. In 1990 he was diagnosed with Stargardt's disease, a progressive condition that affects central vision. While his vision became worse, Whelan continued to do well as he performed outside sales from home. In that environment near Pittsburgh, he had a special computer and family support.

In 1998 Teledyne underwent a reorganization -- Whelan's position was transferred to a new facility in Alabama. Whelan asked for an accommodation to permit him to stay in Pittsburgh. Teledyne wouldn't relent and when Whelan refused to transfer by 4-14-00, he was fired.

Whelan believed he's been a victim of disability discrimination, Teledyne failing to make a reasonable accommodation. Namely he could and in fact had performed his job well for years while working at home -- by insisting on relocation, it was argued that Teledyne essentially removed his working conditions. Whelan further made the argument that not only did Teledyne fail to make a reasonable accommodation -- it made no accommodation whatsoever, insisting Whelan transfer to Alabama.

Teledyne defended that it offered Whelan a generous salary and relocation package -- it did so because it believed it was critical that he be on site in Alabama. Thus it postured that Whelan left the company because he refused to transfer, his disability having nothing to do with the employment decision.

Outcome: While Whelan proved that he was a qualified individual, this jury went on to find that Teledyne had not violated the ADA in failing to make a reasonable accommodation. That ended the deliberations and Whelan took nothing. Share this post :
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