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Affirmation That Employers May Select Reasonable Accommodation

While an employee may request a preferred disability accommodation, employers may choose to provide an alternate reasonable accommodation.
Andrea Sessoms worked for the University of Pennsylvania (“Penn”) when she went out on an approved leave of absence for mental and physical disabilities. Prior to going out on leave, Ms. Sessoms had a hard time with her supervisor. As she was preparing to return to work, Ms. Sessoms submitted a request to work part-time in the beginning with the goal of ultimately working full-time. She also asked if she could transfer departments and report to a different supervisor, one that was less stressful. Penn did agree to her request to work part-time but it refused to transfer her to a different supervisor. It continued to engage in good faith efforts to accommodate her but Ms. Sessoms would not accept any accommodation that did not include changing the supervisor to whom she reported. Thus, Penn fired her.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s dismissal of her case alleging violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Penn was found to have engaged in good faith discussions to accommodate her disability. Ms. Sessoms failed to demonstrate that vacant positions existed in other departments and a “reasonable accommodation does not entitle an employee to a supervisor ideally suited to their needs.”