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Sixth Circuit Says ADA Does Not Require Commuting Accommodations

    Client Alerts
  • May 25, 2012

Earlier this month, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals joined the Ninth Circuit in concluding that the Americans with Disabilities Act does not require employers to provide accommodations for a disabled employee's commute to and from work. In Regan v. Faurecia Automotive Seating, Inc., the plaintiff was diagnosed with narcolepsy. The employer changed its work schedule by one hour, and the plaintiff requested that she be exempted from the change due to the impact of having to commute in heavier traffic on her medical condition. The employer denied the shift adjustment request, but offered the plaintiff FMLA leave to deal with her medical condition.

The Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the employer. It concluded that under the ADA, employers are required to remove barriers for disabled persons in the workplace, but are not required to address outside barriers or limitations. Employers should note that the EEOC takes the administrative position that employers are required to provide accommodations that involve a disabled employee's daily commute. If federal courts continue to back employers on this issue, accommodation obligations can be clearly limited to what happens while the employee is actually at work.