The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) seemingly says no, employers cannot rescind job offers due to sudden disability.
The EEOC filed a suit in New Jersey’s Federal Court in February challenging Saint Clare Hospital’s decision to rescind Taylor McKay’s offer of employment. Saint Clare’s rescinded McKay’s offer after she suffered from a sudden disability. McKay informed Human Resources five days before her start date that she suffered from preeclampsia and her labor was induced. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy condition affecting which causes high blood pressure thus increasing the risk to internal organs. McKay asked for a reasonable accommodation to delay her start date by several weeks. However, Human Resources called to inform McKay that Saint Clare’s revoked her offer of employment.
The EEOC challenges that St. Clare’s violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). This matter is still before the court and not yet resolved. However, the choice of the EEOC to bring the suit forward indicates the Agency’s support for employees.
How did this violate the ADA?
The ADA which protects an employee who has a disability and is qualified to do the job. The decision to rescind McKay’s offer violated the ADA for two reasons. First, Saint Clare’s took action based on McKay’s disability. Second, the employer failed to engage with McKay to provide a reasonable accommodation. Both of these actions violate the ADA because an employer cannot act on basis of a disability and is required to provide a reasonable accommodation unless there is an undue hardship.
What does reasonable accommodation require?
A reasonable accommodation is any adjustment to a work environment or job that allows an individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of the job. This can include modified work schedules, reassignment to vacant positions, or adjustments to training materials. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations unless providing the accommodation causes an undue hardship. An undue hardship occurs when providing the accommodation would be significantly difficult or expensive.
Further, the employer is not required to provide the accommodation requested by the employee. However, even if a specific accommodation causes an undue hardship that does not mean the employer is off the hook. The employer is still responsible for providing another reasonable accommodation if possible.
The EEOC argues that Saint Clare’s failed to adequately engage in the reasonable accommodation process. This is because the hospital chose to rescind the offer instead of working with McKay to provide a reasonable accommodation. Even if the delayed start date presented an undue hardship, the failure to discuss other reasonable accommodations presents grounds for an ADA violation.
Does the ADA cover pregnancy as a condition?
No, pregnancy alone does not activate the ADA protections. But when other complications arise such as preeclampsia or gestational diabetes then the pregnant individual falls within the ADA. This entitles the individual to all of the protections including a duty of reasonable accommodation. The EEOC indicates that Human Resource’s failure to consider McKay’s delayed start date and decision to rescind her offer violated the ADA’s process.
Get Legal Assistance
If an employer rescinded your job offer when you experienced a disability, we can help. At McOmber McOmber & Luber, we take a proactive approach to each and every legal issue our clients face. Please call our office in Red Bank, New Jersey at 732-842-6500, our Marlton, New Jersey office at 856-985-9800, or our Newark, New Jersey office at 973-787-9040 to find out more.