This story could only be more ironic if the company sold the medical devices that are used to perform surgery on the eye. Instead, Safety Vision supplies onboard video technology, like that on the dash of a police car or on a public bus.
Safety Vision has been accused of firing a woman after she requested reasonable accommodation for her eye condition. Jaclyn Jurach had an eye procedure before she started working at Safety Vision that caused her to be extremely sensitive to artificial light, according to The Southeast Texas Register. Jurach claims she had to repeatedly ask to be moved, to no avail. After her final request, she claims she was fired.
How can an employer avoid this situation?
First of all we need to define what exactly the situation is here. While it is not illegal to deny most requests of an employee or to fire an employee for most any reason, it is illegal to discriminate against a person with a disability.
The Americans with Disabilities Act not only prohibits employers from discriminating in hiring, promoting, or treating its workers, it also requires that employers make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.
A reasonable accommodation is like changing a computer screen to have oversized type or widening cubicles for a wheelchair to fit. The accommodation becomes unreasonable when it causes undue hardship on the employer.
One issue in this case is whether Jurach's condition would be considered a disability that required action by the employer. To be disabled there must be a medical condition that affects a major life activity, sight being one of them. Jurach can see, but she has headaches. This might be a disability, but it will be up to the court to decide.
If it is determined that Jurach was disabled, then her firing could be an illegal retaliation, and the refusal to accommodate her a violation of the ADA.
So if you are an employer, be sure that you are providing reasonable accommodations to disabled employees. If you need clarification or have questions, check with a local employment attorney to help answer any questions about your particular situation.
- The Employer's Duty to Accommodate (FindLaw)
- Former CVS Employee Alleges Disability Discrimination (FindLaw's Houston Employment Law Blog)
- Discrimination in the TX Dept of Aging and Disability; What Irony (FindLaw's Houston Employment Law Blog)