News from the Supreme Court: As part of a set of orders, the Supreme Court on May 28, 2013, issued a order denying United Airlines’ request for the Supreme Court to hear its appeal of the September 7, 2012, decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in EEOC v. United Airlines, Case No. 11-1774. The Supreme Court’s order lets stand the 7th Circuit’s decision affirming the right of employees to seek reassignment to vacant positions as a form of reasonable accommodation for their disabilities when accommodation in the original position is not possible.
As the case caption indicates, the case was an enforcement action by EEOC against United Airlines. The EEOC summarized the facts of the case in a May 30, 2013, press release:
“The EEOC’s lawsuit charged that United violated the ADA by requiring workers with disabilities to compete for vacant positions for which they were qualified and which they needed in order to continue working. The company’s practice frequently prevented employees with disabilities from continuing their employment with the company. The Seventh Circuit reversed the dismissal of the EEOC’s disability discrimination lawsuit and found that ‘the ADA does indeed mandate that an employer appoint employees with disabilities to vacant positions for which they are qualified, provided that such accommodations would be ordinarily reasonable and would not present an undue hardship to the employer.’ […] The EEOC filed the original lawsuit on June 3, 2009 in the Northern District of California based on its investigation of a number of discrimination charges filed by United employees located in San Francisco and Chicago.”
The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the appeal in United Airlines signals the Court’s continuing support for its holding in U.S. Airways v. Barnett, 535 U.S. 391 (2002) that includes reassignment to vacant positions within the realm of possible reasonable accommodations for disabilities.
If you believe that you are being discriminated against because of your disability, or denied reasonable accommodation for your disability, please feel free to contact Passman & Kaplan to request an initial consultation.