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ADA Close Calls
Is your cubicle too small? Here are two cases involving employees uncomfortable with tight workspaces and their claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Vegas Jackpot: Jayne Feshold was an analyst in the records department at the University Medical Center (UMC) in Las Vegas.

In 2007, Feshold was assigned to work in a cubicle. Feshold, however, suffers from claustrophobia. So, her supervisor allowed her to work in an open area instead.

Two months later, Feshold's supervisor was replaced and the new supervisor ordered Feshold to return to her cubicle. Although Feshold asked to be accommodated, UMC fired her instead. She then sued for disability discrimination.

The Court ruled that Feshold had a legitimate claim. "When she was reasonably accommodated, as she was under her prior supervisor, she was able to do her job satisfactorily," the Court wrote. Subsequently, UMC agreed to pay Feshold $150,000 to settle her claims. [Feshold v. Clark County (USDC NV 2011) no. 2:10-cv-00003]

Tested Patience: Daniel Gesegnet wanted to be a truck driver for JB Hunt Transport. As part of its hiring process, Hunt required Gesegnet to visit a clinic for a drug screen. At the clinic, Gesegnet was told that he could not leave until he had given a urine sample.

Gesegnet, however, suffers from anxiety disorder and dislikes being in small spaces with other people. So, after waiting two to three hours in a small room with other people, Gesegnet found the situation unbearable and hurriedly left the clinic before being tested.

As a result, Hunt refused to hire him, saying that he refused the drug screen. Gesegnet then sued for disability discrimination.

The Court dismissed his case. The Court ruled that Gesegnet failed to properly notify the company about his need for an accommodation.

"[Gesegnet] only claims he may have made vague suggestions or requests for accommodation. [Gesegnet's] subsequent ability to remain in the waiting room for several hours confirms the non-clarity of any need for accommodation," the Court observed. "Even after [Gesegnet] left the clinic, he made no such request."

"[N]o request by [Gesegnet], if any were made, was specific and direct," the Court wrote. "For this reason, [his] claim must fail." [Gesegnet v. JB Hunt (USDC WDKY 2011) no 3:09-CV-828]

For information on this topic, request:
5730 Employer Must Accommodate Disabled Persons
5770 Definition of Mental Disability
9801 Request for Disability Accommodation

Accommodating Workers With Disabilities (US)

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