Chicago Appeals Court Reinstates Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against United Airlines
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed the dismissal of a disability discrimination lawsuit against United Airlines. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and alleged violations of hte Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). The Court said that "reasonable accommodation" as defined by the ADA may require employers to provide employees with disabilities with "reassignment to a vacant position" when the employee cannot be accommodated in his or her current position. This is a substantial change in the way Chicago courts have interpreted the ADA in the past.
According to published accounts United violated the ADA by refusing to place workers with disabilities in vacant positions for which they were qualified and which they needed in order to continue working. This would have seemed a reasonable accomodation. Instead the company required these employees to compete for jobs on the company website. The company's practice frequently prevented employees with disabilities from continuing their employment. So in affect the company fired employees with disabilities even though the company had available jobs that these employees could perform.
"The Court's decision will have far-reaching benefits for individuals with disabilities who strive for economic independence and want to work." said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez