Decree v. United Parcel Svc., Inc., 2009 WL 3055382 (D.N.J., September 18, 2009) – In this case brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal district court denied summary judgment to the employer because there was a genuine issue regarding who caused a breakdown in the interactive process.
The plaintiff took leave following a motor vehicle accident. Before she returned to work, UPS sent her a letter requesting information about job-related accommodations she may need. The plaintiff refused to provide any medical information on the form. She subsequently returned to work on light duty, at which time she again refused to provide medical information. Thereafter, the plaintiff told the HR manager that she could do her job because her condition would shortly improve, despite restrictions on her release to work note that were inconsistent with her job description. Without attempting to find any other positions for the plaintiff, UPS terminated her.
The court found a genuine issue existed as to whether it was the plaintiff, or her employer, who abandoned the interactive process. Emphasizing the duty of both parties to engage in the process, the court said it was for a jury to determine whether the employee was to blame or whether the employer had caused the breakdown by forcing the plaintiff to choose between UPS’s version of the interactive process, or no interaction at all, effectively “aborting the search for an accommodation when the plaintiff did not play by [its] rules.”.
Note: This article was published in the October 2009 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.