According to a new EEOC lawsuit, a senior bookkeeper with retinitis pigmentosa at a San Jose company, who was hired after he disclosed his medical condition (and accommodated himself with additional lighting at his desk), was nonetheless fired one month later after he was told that he was unable to “drive to deliver paychecks and pick up mail,” a job task never before raised. The employee suggested possible accommodations even for this never-discused task, but the company refused to consider them.
An EEOC attorney summed up the ADA lawsuit: “Disability does not equal inability. The ADA was enacted to ensure that capable and qualified people like [plaintiff] are not denied the opportunity to contribute their talents to the work force. We filed this lawsuit to send a message to employers that such disability discrimination will not be tolerated (emphasis added).”
An employer is required under the ADA to make reasonable accommodations for an employee with a disability to perform the necessary job duties, and not to devise additional job responsibilities intended to render the employee unable to perform the duties. If the complaint in this case is true, this is quite a cynical employer, and it makes one wonder why the employer hired the bookkeeper in the first place — it would have been a whole lot easier to concoct an apparently legitimate reason not to hire him than to create a pretext for firing him.