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HR Solutions

Request for ADA Accommodation at time of RIF No Help to Employee

02/03/06

 

    Recently the federal court of appeals in Chicago threw out Nicole Saladino's case for disability discrimination, despite the timing of her leave, and request for accommodation, with the decision to let her go.  She was one of ten to be cut and the Seventh Circuit ruled that the ADA "does not require that an employer accommodate a disabled employee to the detriment of other senior employees if the disabled employee is released under a non-discriminatory, seniority based layoff policy."   Saladino v Envirovac, Inc.  No 04-3897.

    To the court all Saladino had going for her was timing.  A victim of anxiety disorder and seizures, she had been out for several weeks when her job was eliminated, and she was notified of her lay-off the day after she sought to return to work from her medical leave and work half-days only.  She also presented evidence that she was not on the original RIF list but showed up on a second one that was created after she asked for half-days upon her return.

    "A 'telling temporal sequence' may support a causal connection between a disability and an adverse employment action" the court reasoned, "but it 'is not a magical formula which results in  the finding of a discriminatory cause' without other circumstantial evidence."  Saladino failed to submit that extra quantum of evidence.  Hence bad timing will probably not create exposure for an employer, but "bad timing plus" - such as a comment about the disability, or inconsistent application of the lay-off criteria for who goes and who stays - will.