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I worked in a hospital. I have a medical disability and my…

I worked in a...

I worked in a hospital. I have a medical disability and my neurologist sent my employer a letter in October, 2016 explaining my medical restriction from working in an environment where I am exposed to strong scents. and asked for accommodation. After a year of complaints to HR and management of suffering exposure to strong scents and being sick, they put up a fragrance free sign in my department but never enforced it. They then moved me from a cubicle to an office. Due to the lack of enforcing the sign, I was still exposed even with an office. I suggested a house-wide fragrance free policy since they were not able to get the employees in my office to comply with the sign. A policy would be enforceable because if employees did not comply they would be held accountable. Fragrance-free policies are common place in hospitals, yet my employer refused to do it. Instead they denied I was being exposed yet I had several visits to my doctor and ER throughout the year this occurred. Finally after filing a workers comp case and going out on FMLA from this with no resolution offered when my FMLA ran out, I had no choice but to resign resulting in considerable lost wages. I also filed an EEOC claim. I would like to know where I stand in terms of my employer being in violation of the law. Thank you.

Lawyer's Assistant: Have you discussed the EEOC case with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?

No, my former employer has been contacted by the EEOC already.

Lawyer's Assistant: Are you an "at will" employee? Do you belong to a union?

I do not belong to a union. We were not allowed to be in the union per the hospital's rules. I was salary and you must be an hourly employee to be in the union. My title was Administrative Assistant.

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Answered in 4 minutes by:
5/7/2018
Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 20,631
Experience: Employment/Labor Law Litigation
Verified

Thank you for trusting your question to JA today. I am a licensed attorney with over a decade of law practice and over 20 years of experience in the legal field. I’m happy to be of assistance.

When you are talking about accommodations under the ADA, the employer is obligated to require "reasonable accommodations." Now, it is the word "reasonable" that causes all the issues, because employers are essentially told that they can disagree with requested accommodations by saying that they are not reasonable.

However, here the employer has a number of issues. First, the employer agreed to an accommodation (fragrance free sign), but did not enforce it. In that instance, the employer cannot claim that the accommodation was not reasonable, because they agreed to it. They simply did not meet their obligations. Second, the employer refused an accommodation that has been held to be reasonable in other locations, without truly explaining why it was not reasonable, and instead chose to blame you.

These are not good facts for the employer. Now, no honest attorney can tell you 'you will win this claim.' However, I can say that you have a very strong framework for liability on the part of the employer here.

If you have any further questions or other facts that you would like me to consider, please let me know. I invite follow up questions, so use REPLY for those. If you have no further questions then good luck going forward and please do not forget to rate my service with a three, a four or preferably a five star rating so that I receive credit for working with you today. Please rate me based on my service and not on your satisfaction with the law, which I am not in control of and I am just reporting to you. Please DON’T rate my service until after you have asked any follow up questions that you have, so that I have the best opportunity to earn all 5 stars. Also, feel free to request me in the future, if you have questions concerning a different matter.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Thank you. Since the employer agreed to accommodate and did not enforce, letting me suffer for a whole year since the letter of accommodation was sent to them by my neurologist; does this constitute discrimination?

It would constitute a failure to accommodate that appears to be intentional, so yes you can call it discrimination.

Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 20,631
Experience: Employment/Labor Law Litigation
Verified
Allen M., Esq. and 87 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Thank you so very much!
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The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

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