Officer must show accommodation available to trigger interactive process
Iverson v. City of Shawnee, Kan., No. 08-3264 (10th Cir. 06/17/09, unpublished).
In an unpublished opinion, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for the City of Shawnee, Kan., in an Americans with Disabilities Act suit filed by a former employee.
What it means:
An employer's obligation to engage in the interactive process with an employee with a disability who is seeking reassignment does not automatically kick in. The employee must show that a suitable vacancy exists, that she is qualified for the position, and that meets her medical restrictions.
A city of Shawnee, Kan., police officer repeatedly injured her back on the job. She underwent surgery but did not recover sufficiently to pass the mandatory firearms test. The officer requested reassignment to an appropriate vacant position as an accommodation but was told no openings existed. She sued under the ADA for discrimination and failure to accommodate.
The 10th Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the city. The officer argued that the city failed to engage in the interactive process in good faith to identify an appropriate vacant position. She said that the city refused to evaluate her condition, consider other jobs that would meet her qualifications and medical restrictions, or provide a list of suitable openings. The court pointed out that the city did not have an obligation to engage in the interactive process under the ADA unless the officer demonstrated that a reasonable accommodation was possible. She did not show that she was able to perform any jobs that were available at that time.
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August 10, 2009
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