No – the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently rejected a failure-to-accommodate claim brought by an employee who worked without accommodation for two years after he requested and then retracted his request for accommodation.
In Aldini v. Kroger Co. of Michigan, the employee initially requested a lifting restriction of no more than 25 pounds and a 15-minute break every two hours. No. 15-1044 (6th Cir. Oct. 7, 2015). After his supervisor told the employee that lifting more than 25 pounds was an essential requirement of the job, the employee went back to his doctor who cleared him to work without restrictions. The employee then worked for two years without requesting any further accommodations before filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Sixth Circuit quickly disposed of the employee’s failure-to-accommodate claim. The court reasoned that the employee’s retraction of his request for accommodation meant that the employee could not satisfy his burden of proving that he requested an accommodation or that the employer was aware of his need for an accommodation. The court stated that the employee’s decision “decision to withdraw his request and continue working without complaint means his claim must fail and summary judgment is appropriate.”
Takeaway: If an employee retracts a request for accommodation and then continues to work for a long period of time without accommodation, the employee likely cannot succeed on a failure-to-accommodate claim under the ADA.