No exposure to cleaning solutions restriction ends janitor's employment
Case name: Horn v. Knight Facilities Management
-- GM, Inc., No. 11-13799 (E.D. Mich. 12/03/12).
Ruling: The U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan granted summary judgment to a company on a janitor's Americans with Disabilities Act claims.
What it means: An employee with a disability who claims that she is otherwise qualified with a reasonable accommodation bears the initial burden of proposing an accommodation and showing that it is objectively reasonable.
A janitor for a company that provided commercial cleaning services claimed a sensitivity to cleaning solutions. After she was placed on a medical restriction of "no exposure to cleaning solutions," the company determined that it had no jobs that would meet such a broad restriction. The janitor alleged that the company violated the ADA by failing to reasonably accommodate her disability. The U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan granted summary judgment to the company, finding that the janitor did not show she was a qualified individual because she could not perform the essential functions of her position, either with or without a reasonable accommodation.
Both of the accommodations proposed by the janitor -- eliminating her bathroom cleaning duties or allowing her to perform her job using a respirator -- were objectively unreasonable.
Even if her bathroom cleaning duties were eliminated, her remaining tasks involved using various cleaning solutions, and her medical restriction was no exposure to cleaning solutions.
In addition, allowing the janitor to use a respirator wouldn't be a reasonable accommodation because her restriction included using or touching cleaning solutions. Very few tasks assigned to a janitor in a commercial building do not require at least some direct use of cleaning solutions. Even if the janitor was limited to performing those tasks, she would still be working in the same areas where the cleaning solutions were being used and would still be exposed to them.
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March 4, 2013
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