FAILURE TO ENGAGE IN INTERACTIVE PROCESS NOT JUSTIFIED BY “NO CALL, NO SHOW” POLICY

The case is Price v. Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth, decided by District Court Judge Lawrence E. Kahn of the Northern Division of New York, and may be viewed here.

The facts of the case are somewhat absurd. Price, an employee at the youth services center, was struck with a fire extinguisher by one of the children in the center. Price, who was hospitalized after the incident, alleged that her doctors attempted to contact the center regarding her injuries, but the center “evaded” attempts to interact with the doctor. She also claimed that there were reasonable accommodations that would have enabled her to perform the essential functions of her job. Nevertheless, the center fired Price on the basis of their “no call, no show” policy. The center also claimed that there was no reasonable accommodation that would allow Price to perform the essential functions of her job. Judge Kahn rejected these arguments on both of the grounds stated in the complaint. Accordingly:

(1) Defendant’s alleged failure to engage in the ADA-required interactive process may have prevented Plaintiff from identifying specific reasonable accommodations; and (2) the Complaint implicitly alleges specific reasonable accommodations.

Some ADA rulings are easier to understand than others. In this case, it is incomprehensible, at least to me, why an employer would not fully investigate an on-the-job injury to determine the extent of the injuries, the nexus to her essential job functions, and possible accommodations to overcome whatever barriers are imposed by the injuries.

by Art Gutman, Ph.D., Professor, Florida Institute of Technology

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