Transfer Away From Alleged Harasser May Be an ADA Reasonable Accommodation

Usually, judges rule it’s not a reasonable ADA accommodation to not have to work for a particular supervisor. In other words, a disabled worker can’t demand a transfer away from a specific supervisor, even if that supervisor may aggravate the employee’s disability. The context is usually an employee who claims that the supervisor’s abusive behavior triggers anxiety or panic attacks.

But what if the disabled employee wants a transfer because the supervisor is harassing her? According to this recent decision, that may be a reasonable accommodation.

Recent case: Kristen claimed she had been sexually harassed for years by a fellow female nurse practitioner and a doctor. She said the nurse practitioner left sexually suggestive messages and groped Kristen at work. She also may have accessed medical records that revealed Kristin was a virgin. She then allegedly began making comments about virginity and pregnancy as a cure for Kristen’s medical problems. The doctor allegedly joined in the torment, and Kristen took leave for post-traumatic stress disorder.

As a reasonable accommodation, Kristen asked not to be assigned to work with the nurse practitioner and doctor. When the employer refused, Kristen sued, alleging failure to accommodate.

The court said Kristen’s case could go forward because it was entirely possible to assign the parties to different positions within the medical facility. (Haight v. NYU, No. 13-CV-4993, SD NY, 2016)

Final note: Don’t let harassment get to this stage. Kristen had complained for years, but management ignored her pleas.

Business Management Daily