One more thing about EEOC v. Ford Motor Company (6th Cir. April 22, 2014). (See previous posts about that case here and here.) We have posted about the growing number of court decisions recognizing that the impact on co-workers of a plaintiff’s requested accommodation is a factor in the undue hardship analysis.  See here and here.

The Ford decision has a very clear, likely to be oft-cited, pronouncement on this issue: “A proposed accommodation that burdens other employees may be unreasonable.”  Add that line to the collection of other appellate court pronouncements on this issue, which include:

  • “an accommodation that would require other employees to work harder is unreasonable.”  Mason v. Avaya Communications, Inc. (10th Cir, 2004);
  • an accommodation “that would result in other employees having to work harder or longer hours is not required.” Johnson v Midwest City (10th Cir. 1999); and
  •  an employer need not grant an accommodation that will “increase the difficulty of [plaintiff’s] co-workers’ jobs: EEOC v. United Airlines (10th Cir. 1999).

This growing recognition that the impact on co-workers is part of the “undue hardship” analysis is significant. As a practical matter, the impact on co-workers is often the most significant effect of a requested accommodation. Employers should consider referencing these cases along with those we have posted about previously in position statements, briefs, oral arguments and jury instructions when the undue hardship argument includes the requested accommodation’s “impact on co-workers.”