By Amy E. Feldman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – What is the duty of a private employer to provide an accessible workplace if it doesn’t have any disabled workers or applicants?
As if to show that no one is immune from disability lawsuits, a supervisor in California sued her employer – unbelievably the California Department of Rehabilitation no less – for failing to make her worksite accessible by not providing her with motorized transportation to get her from her car to her workstation. She won.
Under federal law, a private employer that is not a commercial facility or a public accommodation is NOT required to make its facilities accessible until an applicant or employee requires an accommodation – and then the accommodation should be tailored to the needs of the individual.
So, the ruling in California doesn’t mean that everyone needs to provide motorized transportation from the parking lot – at least not until someone needs it. But employers may wish to provide a generally accessible worksite since it is foreseeable – especially at, say, the Department of Rehabilitation – that a disabled worker may apply.