Court: Demoting a Disabled Employee Can Be a Reasonable Accommodation

by Evil HR Lady on December 4, 2019

Brigid Ford worked as a Sheriff’s Deputy for 12 years when a car ran a red light and smashed into her patrol car. After a year of light-duty, her injuries mean she still couldn’t use her right hand totally and had ongoing pain. In other words, not the best condition for a police officer.

The Sheriff’s department offered her three choices: 

1. A civilian job at a lower rate of pay with accommodations for her disability.

2. Resignation.

3. Termination.

Ford chose the demotion and then sued, saying that it was a violation of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). The 7th Circuit noted that this was a reasonable application of the law and that in this case, a demotion was a reasonable accommodation.

This is not a standard application

Under the¬†Americans with Disabilities Act, you need to provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee, and to do that, you need to go through the “interactive process.” This means that you go back and forth until you come to a reasonable solution. In this case, Ford’s disability prevented her from doing the original job as a Sheriff’s Deputy even with accommodations.

To keep reading, click here: Court: Demoting a Disabled Employee Can Be a Reasonable Accommodation

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

grannybunny December 4, 2019 at 3:10 pm

Since this was an on-the-job injury, I sincerely hope that Ms. Ford is also receiving compensation for the permanent lost wage-earning capacity caused by her injuries.

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MariaRose December 4, 2019 at 9:49 pm

Well, Ms. Ford should have received a worker’s comp payout for the permanent disability, but I am wondering if there was a cause in that payout, that had wording that made her working at a desk position as a sheriff deputy a no-go, which may be why she filed this suit. There’s more to this story. I am glad that the article did discuss the process of how to handle an employee who becomes disabled, but in this specific situation where it was an on-the-job injury, the workman’s comp report statement decision did affect the outcome, especially after a year’s worth of accommodation by the sheriff department. She just didn’t really accept the demotion to a clerk with the pay cut, she wanted that position at her former pay. Apparently, this sheriff’s department doesn’t employ sheriffs to do any clerk duty. I wonder who does their daily reports and writeups.

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Annie December 4, 2019 at 10:53 pm

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