SW Legal studies in Business

Severe Allergy May Be Disability Requiring Reasonable Accommodation
Description Appeals court held that a driver who suffered from a severe allergy that required a medication that would make him sleepy could well be disabled. That might require the employer to consider a transfer for the employee to a location where the allergy would not be a problem as a reasonable accommodation.

Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Disability Discrimination; Disability; Reasonable Accommodation
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Woods worked as a UPS driver in Austin, Texas, for several years before he developed a severe allergy to cedar trees. He contended that the allergy could only be controlled if he used a medicine that would cause him to become sleepy, which would be dangerous due to his driving requirements. His doctor urged him to move to a part of the country without cedar trees. He requested to be reassigned to the Cincinnati area and claims he was told that the company would not reassign him, but that he could quit and move and would then be recommended to be rehired. He quit, moved, and was then told that UPS had a policy against hiring former employees. He sued for disability discrimination. The trial court dismissed the suit, holding that he was not disabled. The EEOC appealed on behalf of Woods.
Decision Reversed. Woods made a prima facie showing that he was disabled for the working conditions of his job in Austin. He had adequate medical evidence that the severity of his allergy required medication that would not be appropriate when he was driving and that his doctors urged him to move. UPS made no accommodation for this disability. It is a question of fact to be determined at trial if Woods was induced to quit and move to Cincinnati at the suggestion of supervisors at UPS who told him he would be rehired. An employer has a duty to consider a transfer as a reasonable accommodation for an employee in such a situation.
Citation EEOC v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 249 F.3d 557 (6th Cir., 2001)

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