Failure to Provide Reasonable Accommodations (WA State)
Under the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD), what is the prima facie case for failure to provide reasonable accommodations? Here's my point of view (NOTE: please read our DISCLAIMER before proceeding).
FAILURE TO PROVIDE REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS
"The WLAD gives employers an affirmative duty to accommodate an employee's disability." Mackey v. Home Depot USA, Inc., 12 Wn.App.2d 557, 586 (Div. 2 2020), review denied, 468 P.3d 616 (2020) (citing RCW 49.60.180(2); LaRose v. King County, 8 Wn.App.2d 90, 125, 437 P.3d 701 (2019)). "A reasonable accommodation must allow the employee to work in the environment and perform the essential functions of her job without substantially limiting symptoms." Id. (citing Frisino v. Seattle Sch. Dist. No. 1, 160 Wn.App. 765, 777-78, 249 P.3d 1044 (2011)) (internal quotation marks omitted).
THE ELEMENTS: PRIMA FACIE CASE
"An employee claiming his or her employer failed to accommodate a disability must prove that[:]
(2) the employee was qualified to do the job at issue,
Id. at 586 (citing LaRose, 8 Wn.App.2d at 125-26) (paragraph formatting, hyperlinks, and emphasis added).
EMPLOYEE'S DUTY TO COMMUNICATE
"[A]n employer must be able to ascertain whether its efforts at accommodation have been effective, and therefore an employee has a duty to communicate to the employer whether the accommodation was effective." Id. at 586-87 (citing Frisino v. Seattle Sch. Dist. No. 1, 160 Wn.App. 765, 783, 249 P.3d 1044 (2011)) (hyperlinks added). In other words, "[i]f the employee does not communicate to the employer that an accommodation was not effective, he or she cannot maintain a failure to accommodate claim." Id. at 587 (internal citation omitted) (emphasis and hyperlinks added).
MULTIPLE METHODS OF ACCOMMODATION
"Where multiple potential methods of accommodation exist, the employer is entitled to select the appropriate method." Id. at 586 (citing Frisino, 160 Wn.App. at 779) (hyperlink added).
If you would like to learn more, then consider contacting an experienced Washington State Employment Discrimination Attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. Please note: the information contained in this article is not offered as legal advice and will not form an attorney-client relationship with either this author or Williams Law Group; please see our DISCLAIMER.