Don’t Sleep on Verifying Reasonable Accommodations
I’m also not sure what accommodation a hotel can make for front-desk clerk who falls asleep on the job.
After the hotel fired him, he claimed disability discrimination. His disability? An alleged illness that he had contracted from long-term exposure to high levels of electromagnetic voltage at the hotel.
The 7th Circuit had little difficultly affirming the dismissal of his lawsuit:
There is debate in the medical community over whether sensitivity to electromagnetic voltage is a physical disorder or a psychological one.… If it is psychological, the symptoms might not constitute a disorder that would entitle Hirmiz to the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act. A great deal of psychological distress is trivial — fear of black cats, for example. And indeed the district court found that Hirmiz had provided no evidence — medical or otherwise — that he suffers from any “impairment” that “substantially limits” any of his “major life activities,” as required to prove the existence of a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- The request of the employee must be for “reasonable” documentation. An employer may require only the documentation that is needed to establish that a person has an ADA disability, and that the disability necessitates a reasonable accommodation. It would unreasonable, for example, to request a person’s complete medical records because they are likely to contain information unrelated to the disability at issue and the need for the accommodation.
- An employer may require that the documentation come from an appropriate health care or rehabilitation professional, such as doctors (including psychiatrists), psychologists, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, vocational rehabilitation specialists, and licensed mental health professionals. The appropriate professional will vary from case to case, and will depend on the disability and the type of functional limitation it imposes
- In requesting documentation, employers should specify the types of information they are seeking regarding the disability, its functional limitations, and the need for reasonable accommodation.
- An employer can ask the employee to sign a limited release allowing the employer to submit a list of specific questions to the health care professional.
Our sleeping front desk clerk lost his case because he offered zero medical evidence that his electromagnetic sensitivity was an actual medical condition.