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ADA and reasonable accommodation.

Beth68

Junior Member
#1
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? New York
I work in an office that is covered by the ADA. I have more than one condition that qualifies as a disability and my employer is aware of these conditions. Last summer I submitted documentation and was approved for intermittent FMLA. 2 weeks ago I requested a seat change to a quieter area as a reasonable accommodation. My email indicated that I was having difficulty concentrating and leaving work with headaches due to the chaos in my work area. The request was ignored. No response. A week later I followed up and HR suggested a few seats and asked for my feedback. I investigated and promptly replied that 3 of 4 of the desks were non starters as they were positioned in between the employee lunch room and a slamming exit door. I asked for clarification of the location of the 4th option. That was Monday. Again, no response. I emailed late in the day and asked the status. HR suggested that I use my PTO (paid time off) until they find me a suitable desk if I was having difficulty. How is using my PTO reasonable accommodation? Why should I be forced to use my PTO when I have asked for a seat change as a way to continue to work? Is it an accommodation if it is time I am already entitled to? And by the way, the company has downsized recently and there are literally dozens of empty desks. And is 2 weeks a reasonable amount of time to wait for HR/management to address my request?

Thanks
 


HRZ

Senior Member
#2
I might be pro active and send at least two people in relevant structure a list of 8 clear seat locations
 

cbg

I'm a Northern Girl
#3
You are mixing kiwi fruit and bananas.

FMLA and the ADA are two different laws with two different purposes and two different criteria. It is possible to qualify for FMLA without qualifying for the ADA - it is possible to qualify for the ADA without qualifying for FMLA. Just because you've been approved for FMLA doesn't mean you qualify for an ADA accommodation. Nor does identifying yourself as needing FMLA come even close to invoking your rights under the ADA.

So what major life activity does your disability limit?
 

Beth68

Junior Member
#4
I only mentioned FMLA as a way to demonstrate my employer is well aware of my conditions and that my conditions have been well documented. There is no question that I qualify.

I am unable to concentrate in loud chaotic spaces and find them distressing. I have been with the company for 6+ years and have been able to perform my job. My department was recently relocated. The issue with the noise is related to the move.

Assuming I qualify, is it proper for them to suggest I use my vacation time until they relocate me? They have had 2 weeks. There are probably 100 empty seats. There shouldn’t be any problem or need for me to consume my vacation time because they are failing to provide an easily provided reasonable accommodation. I would like to use my PTO the way I want to use it. Not waste it when I could be working but for their failure. Thanks.
 

cbg

I'm a Northern Girl
#5
You did not answer my question. Your employer being aware of your condition is not sufficient to qualify you for ADA protection.

I ask again, what major life function is impaired by your disability? I'm not prepared to answer your question until you answer mine. I have no way of judging what is and is not appropriate without that information.
 

cbg

I'm a Northern Girl
#7
Thank you for clarifying.

And how are the seating arrangements generally determined? Who decides who sits where, and what is the organization? As an example of what I mean, in my workplace we have specific teams who do like tasks. This team answers phone and email questions; this team does data entry; this team handles escalated cases and retirements, etc. Each team sits in the same area so that we're all in the same centralized region.
 
#8
The inability to concentrate is a symptom not a condition. What condition have you been diagnosed with that causes you not to be able to concentrate?
 

HRZ

Senior Member
#9
OP ...some very rough thoughts and not the precise question you asked.

ADA rules are a bit different than FMLA ...and you must specifically request a reasonable accommodation under ADA to be sure you are under that umbrella ....a blanket statement of they knew I had needs is not quite safe enough in my book ...ergo my suggestion to recite ADA and make some proactive suggestions about spaces , in writing ....one can debate if your condition belongs under the umbrella or if your requests are reasonable ...later , but it might help to identity the condition not just the symptoms .

IF you are just not able to keep up to increased demands of the job...that's not a good excuse to save a job you cannot perform .

PTO is NOT a vested benefit in NY unless the employer says in writing that it vests . And if you are being on list to go for whatever reason....you may want to rethink if your particular firm is esseNtially a use it or lose it place.
 

cbg

I'm a Northern Girl
#10
PTO is NOT a vested benefit in NY unless the employer says in writing that it vests .

Actually, in NY it's the reverse. PTO is vested in NY unless the employer says in writing that it's not. NY is one of only two or three states that does it this way.

However, I still don't know if the use of PTO would be reasonable or not.
 

Beth68

Junior Member
#11
My employer does not dispute that I have a condition covered by the ADA.

Thank you to those who tried to help. I appreciate your responses.
 

HRZ

Senior Member
#12
Cbg probably runs 95% or better at hitting nails on right head....I would agree with her that required use of PTO as is unknown as to reasonable or not. She is current with rules I am not ( a few years ago the NY case law was the other way around as to PTO )

Something is missing in your picture ..IF there are lots (100-/+ ) of empty desks and or reseating options ..was your request made via your supervisory chain of command ...or did you bypass them and go to HR ...if there are major downsizes and relocations there may be lots of other pressure on managers at every level ....and none of us are there to know how your structure operates officially and unofficially.
 

Beth68

Junior Member
#13
I made the request to my director. He sat on it for a week. When I followed up, he “looped” HR in. I reached out to JAN, job accommodation network. Their response was basically no, My employer can’t force me to use leave in lieu of accommodating me, must respond to my request expeditiously and can’t force me to use lieu during the interactive process.
 

Beth68

Junior Member
#14
I am more than capable of performing the job. There has not been an increase in responsibility. The only variable was a change in location from a typical cube environment to a loud chaotic environment where people yell over walls and talk to people 4 cubes in front of them instead of getting up and speaking to that person in closer proximity or calling them. There is a complete lack of supervision. It is an insurance company, not the floor of the stock exchange. I have worked in corporate offices for 25 years. I have never seen anything like it before.
 

HRZ

Senior Member
#15
Careful....what you describe about others is not wining points for you....your specific disability is the key to your personal options . And you haven't told us yet what that might be ...
 
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