Employer Must Consider Shift Change to Accommodate Disability-Related Difficulties in Getting to Work

Published Date: 
May 20, 2010

Colwell v. Rite Aid Corp., 2010 WL 1376301 (3d Cir., April 8, 2010) – In this case the plaintiff, who was blind in one eye, requested to work only on the day shift because she was unable to safely drive to and from work at night. Her employer refused, claiming it would be “unfair” to other workers. The employer further argued it had no duty to accommodate the plaintiff’s “commuting problems,” which were unrelated to the workplace, since the plaintiff had no difficulty performing her job once she was there.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals held as a matter of law that changing an employee’s hours to prevent disability-related transportation issues is the type of accommodation contemplated by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which specifically cites “modified work schedules” as an example of a reasonable accommodation. However, whether an employer must provide such an accommodation in any particular case is, as always, subject to a determination of what is reasonable under the facts of the case.

Note: This article was published in the May 2010 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.