Employee Who Lost License Due to Seizures

I read with interest the question posted on 5-8-01 about the employee who lost his license because of DUI. However, I have a different problem. My employee lost her license, at least for now, because of seizures. I believe she and her physician are waiting to learn if over time medication will enable her to drive. Her job has always involved some driving and her job description lists a valid drivers license as a requirement. We were able to make accommodations for her this year, but next year her job description will change and more driving will be required. We have another job she can do but is not at a level equal to her current job. Are we breaching ADA requirements if we demote her? What options do I have?


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  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 05-11-01 AT 01:48PM (CST)[/font][p]
    Skipping the critical issue of whether or not driving is really an essential function or whether it's just a convenience to perform the actual duty, the question is whether "demotion" is a reasonable accommodation.

    EEOC prefers, if an employee cannot perform the essential duties of the original job, or that there are no reasonable accommodations, or that reasonable accommodations would cause an undue hardship, that the employer reassign or transfer the employee to another vacant job for which he or she is qualified or capable of performing with or without reasonable accommodation. The job needs to be at comparable level of duties and compensation, and other employment conditions.

    Transfer or reassignment should only be looked at after all other reasonable accommodation possibilities have been eliminated.

    However, if transfer to a comparable position is not possible, an employee may be demoted to a position he or she is qualified to do, with or without reasonable accommodation, and with a lower rate of pay, provided 1) there are no reasonable accommodations for the original job and 2) there are no vacant, equivalent positions. Such demotions are not to result in ADA-qualified employees being segregated into lower level positions from the rest of the workforce.
  • One other suggestion I might make that may keep you out of the EEOC is to transfer the employee to the lower paying job and freeze her wages in place until the wage scale catches up to her current rate or until she is able to drive again medically. Consider the wage freeze to be the best reasonable accomodation you can make. EEOC and/or juries are not as sympathetic when there is no economic loss. Hope this helps.

    Margaret Morford
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