Two recent U.S. Court of Appeals decisions clarify that employers may need to accommodate employees' disability-related difficulties in commuting to work. In Colwell v. Rite Aid Corporation, 602 F.3d 495 (3rd Cir. 2010), the Third Circuit held that “under certain circumstances the ADA can obligate an employer to accommodate an employee’s disability-related difficulties in getting to work, if reasonable.” In this case, an employee’s partial blindness made it difficult for her to drive to work at night. However, the company refused to schedule her on day shifts, explaining that it “wouldn’t be fair” to other workers. The employee resigned and brought suit against the employer for violating the ADA.
The court noted that, under the ADA, an employer discriminates against an employee by not providing reasonable accommodations for the employee’s physical or mental limitations, unless the employer demonstrates that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer’s business. The term “reasonable accommodation” includes: