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ADA Accommodations need not be job Related

An assistant attorney general for the Louisiana Department of Justice suffered from osteoarthritis of the knee, and requested that her employer provide her with a free on-site parking space as an accommodation. The employer refused, and the employee filed a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act, claiming that the employer failed to provide her with a reasonable accommodation. The district court granted summary judgment to the employer, holding that the employee failed to explain how the parking space related to her ability to perform the essential functions of her job. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed, holding that there need not be a nexus between a requested accommodation and the essential functions of the requesting employee's job. In reaching this holding, the court focused on the language of the statute, as well as implementing regulations, and found no requirement that an accommodation be specifically linked to an employee's essential job duties. This case provides an important clarification of the accommodation process, and employers should be careful to fully evaluate all accommodation requests, even where there is no direct nexus between the requested accommodation and the requesting employee's job duties.

For more information read Feist v. Louisiana, No. 12-31065 (5th Cir. Sep. 16, 2013).

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