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Workers with disabilities should not need to compete for new jobs

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers in Florida and throughout the country are required to offer reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. This might mean a number of things. For example, a reasonable accommodation might mean that an employee will be put on light duty or be relieved of certain duties. It might mean that a worker will be offered certain tools or equipment. Another reasonable accommodation may be transferring an employee who becomes disabled into a vacant position for which he or she is suited.

This latter accommodation, the job transfer, has been the subject of an ongoing lawsuit against United Airlines, which has asked workers with disabilities to apply and compete for vacant positions instead of simply transferring them.

In 2009, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against United Airlines, arguing that its policy of requiring disabled workers to compete for new roles violated the ADA.

The Seventh Circuit ruled that employees with disabilities should not have to compete for job reassignment; rather, reassignment is a reasonable accommodation when a worker cannot be accommodated in his or her current position.

United Airlines appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court recently decided not to review the case.

The Supreme Court's refusal to review this case is a reminder that disability discrimination is very clearly and plainly illegal. People with disabilities should not be forced to face artificial obstacles in the workplace. It is for this reason that employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, including moving employees into new roles for which they are qualified when it is not possible to make accommodations in the current position.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "U.S. Supreme Court Denies United Airlines Petition," May 30, 2013

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