Can an employee be demoted after they asked for an accommodation based on their disability?

My mother was recently demoted for "quality" after she requested an accommodation based on her MS. She is a resident manager at a national hotel chain and request a ramp for her apartment door because she uses a scooter to get around occassionaly. Her doctor also instructed her to request a "walk in" shower for her bathroom. She was told this would not be a problem last week and to get bids for the changes. She and another employee had a conversation last week with a manager and my mother was told that she had a job at her current location for as long as she would like to work. Yesterday she was informed by her manager that she was being demoted and offered another position working front desk (with no living accommodations) in another city based on her "quality". In her most recent review, she was rated a 4 out of 5. Her reviews have always been well above average and the property she currently manages is above the national average in quality. A couple of years ago she was also named the Manager of the Year in her region of motels.

1 answer  |  asked Jun 4, 2010 10:07 AM [EST]  |  applies to Arizona

Answers (1)

Francis Fanning
It sounds like your mother may have a claim for disability discrimination. She should begin by complaining internally to the HR department of her employer. If she can't get the problem resolved, the next step would be to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This is a necessary step before a lawsuit can be filed. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to make reasonable accommodations of an employee's disability, which this employer apparently has done. However, the ADA also prohibits adverse employment actions either because the employee has a disability or because the employee requested an accommodation.
Proving disability discrimination is not always easy. Your mother's record seems to show her to be a qualified individual. But the mere fact that she has MS does not mean she has a disability under the ADA. She must be able to show that her condition substantially impairs one or more major life activities, which means things like eating, sleeping, walking, caring for oneself . . . things that most everyone does on a regular basis.

posted by Francis Fanning  |  Jun 4, 2010 12:15 PM [EST]

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