- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sued a Maryland branch of telecommunications provider Verizon for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. The suit alleged that a management employee of Verizon Maryland, LLC, who suffered from hypertension, asked his manager if he could either move to a field position or an alternate management position that could accommodate his disability.
- Despite an opening for a field position, which the worker previously held, Verizon prevented him for competing for that role, the EEOC alleged; the worker’s manager told him that he would have to resign and reapply for the open position in six months.
- Not only did Verizon not provide the worker with accommodations in the meantime, but the employee was forced to resign due to medical necessity — and was not offered the chance to compete for vacant management positions.
Beyond terminating employment due to disability, employers also cannot create environments that force workers to quit due to their disability.
Additionally, as EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence said in a September 6 statement, “Inviting an employee to resign and then reapply for work six months later can never be a reasonable accommodation.”
HR experts have emphasized the necessity of collaboration when approaching disability accommodations. From a regional EEOC field director’s perspective, Verizon arguably refused to adopt that approach. “Employers must be flexible and work in a spirit of problem solving and cooperation when responding to ADA accommodation requests,” EEOC Baltimore Field Office Director Rosemarie Rhodes said in a statement.
The key issue is that even when an employer can’t accommodate a worker in their current role, management still needs to explore other options. “When an assignment is incompatible with an employee’s disability, other assignments must be considered,” Rhodes added.