EEOC Office of Legal Counsel staff members wrote the following informal discussion letter in response to an inquiry from a member of the public. This letter is intended to provide an informal discussion of the noted issue and does not constitute an official opinion of the Commission.
ADA: Reasonable Accommodation
June 20, 2001
This is in response to your letter of April 18, 2001, in which you inquired about the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to a situation involving an employee with a seizure disorder. (1) Your letter notes that this employee is qualified for his job. Recently, however, the employee's doctor placed several restrictions on the employee, including no driving. You note that driving is not an essential function of this employee's job, and that the employer is prepared to provide a driver for any transportation needed while on the job. Apparently, the employee has insisted on continuing to drive to and from work.
First, you ask if the employer is required to provide assistance in getting this employee to and from work. The ADA does not require an employer to provide such assistance as a form of reasonable accommodation; rather, it is the employee's responsibility to arrange how s/he will get to and from work. Nothing in the ADA, however, prevents an employer from offering an employee with a disability assistance in getting to and from work, although the individual may choose whether to accept such an offer.
Reasonable accommodation may be required to address other issues involving an employee's commute to and from work. For example, if the employer provided transportation to work for all employees, then it might have to provide reasonable accommodation to make this service accessible to a person with a disability. Also, there are certain types of reasonable accommodations that an employer might have to provide to address workplace barriers connected with commuting problems. For example, an employee who uses a wheelchair and who takes public transportation to get to work may need an adjustment to his/her working hours if transportation is limited because only some buses are accessible.
Second, you ask if the employer could require, as a condition of continued employment, that the employee follow his doctor's restriction and not drive to and from work. Generally, the Commission has discouraged employer involvement in the decisions of individuals with disabilities concerning how to treat or manage their conditions. For example, the Commission has taken the position that employers do not have a reasonable accommodation obligation to monitor whether an employee is taking prescribed medication or pursuing recommended medical treatment. (2) Reasonable accommodation is for the purpose of removing workplace barriers; whether an employee takes medication or pursues treatment is a matter of personal choice. Moreover, in addressing the question of whether an employer may require that an employee with a disability take prescribed medication, the Commission has said that if an employee's disability interferes with the ability to perform the job, then the employer may take appropriate steps to address performance or conduct problems. (3) Finally, imposing any condition of employment on an individual with a disability that is not required of other employees raises concerns about disparate treatment.
I hope this information is helpful. This letter is not an official opinion of the Commission.
Peggy R. Mastroianni
Associate Legal Counsel
1. This letter only discusses the application of the ADA to this situation. It does not discuss other potential legal considerations, including tort liability and the applicability of state laws that may restrict individuals with certain medical conditions from driving.
2. See EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship Under the Americans with Disabilities Act at Question 36, 8 FEP Manual (BNA) 405:7601.
3. See EEOC Enforcement Guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act and Psychiatric Disabilities at Question 32, 8 FEP Manual (BNA) 405:7478.
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