My daugther is legally blind, she R.P. and has less than 9% of her vision. She has worked for the same company for ten years. Her work scheduele is from 9:30 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. Tuesday thru Thrusday, and she is able to get to work by getting a ride with her mother at 9:00 a.m., as this works with her mothers scheduele. Now my daugthers company is trying to make her change her scheduele to 3:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. at night. This scheduele creates a problem for my daugther in at least two areas; first she has no way to get to work at 3 P.M., it is dark when she gets off work for the better part of the year, [she has no night vision]. She has always been willing to do what the company ask of her and she is a very good employee. Is there anything under the ADA act to help her stay on her 9:00 A.M. scheduele? Thank you for your time.
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I'm sorry to hear about your daughter's situation, and will do what I can to assist. The ADA requires "reasonable accommodations" to accommodate a disability. A company does not have to accommodate a disability if the accommodations would be "unreasonable". Now there is case law (out of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, which is not binding on the courts in your district, but very persuasive as a case of "first impression") that would indicate that a schedule change would be a reasonable accommodation. The case is "Colwell v. Rite Aid Corp".
The case revolves around a pharmacy retail clerk whose hours were divided between day and night-time shifts. She suffered from eye disease and eventually went blind in her left eye. Although she still had vision in her right eye and was able to work, her doctor recommended that she not drive at night. Because public transportation wasn’t available after 6 p.m., the woman asked that she be assigned only day shifts. Her supervisor refused, saying it “wouldn’t be fair” to other workers. For a time, the woman asked family members to shuttle her to and from work — a practice she called a “hardship.” She continued to seek a day-time only schedule, eventually asking the help of her union representative. When his entreaties failed, she quit.
The woman filed suit, claiming the employer should have accommodated her disability by allowing her to work a daytime schedule. The company countered that the woman didn’t need an accommodation to perform her job. Where she was having difficulty was in her commute — and the company had no obligation to bend over backwards to help her get to work. But a federal appeals court thought otherwise. The judge, reversing a lower court decision, said that changing the woman’s schedule “in order to alleviate her disability-related difficulties in getting to work is a type of accommodation that the ADA contemplates.” The court’s reasoning: The accommodation wasn’t really about the woman’s commute, an issue that was outside the working relationship. It was about deciding when she worked — an issue that was definitely within the control of the employer.
So schedule change due to a lack of a ride to work could be a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.
She should specifically ask for a "reasonable accommodation", under the Americans with Disabilities Act, due to the lack of a ride to work for the new schedule. If they refuse, she can point them to this case, that shows that at least one appellate court agreed that this type of accommodation is reasonable under the ADA.
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