Published on:

ADA Accommodations, And Amazon’s Labor Disputes in Europe

The Employment Discrimination Report has an interesting look
at whether a reasonable accommodation under the ADA requires that an employer
provide an accommodation that the employee likes.  In the case in question, a city laboratory
employee who developed health problems as a result of the chemicals she was
working with asked for an accommodation.
The employer responded by providing her with a respirator to wear, but
she said it made her claustrophobic, and refused to try a partial-face
respirator as an alternative.  She
eventually accrued too many absences and was fired. 

The employee claimed that she should have been transferred
to a different lab or allowed to use different chemicals.  The Court found that she should have tried
the partial-face respirator that was provided for her use, and that her failure
to take advantage of that reasonable accommodation removed her from the ADA’s
protections.  The Court reiterated that
the ADA only requires that the employer provide a reasonable accommodation,
rather than the one preferred or requested by the employee.  The article does bring up an interesting
argument that perhaps the employee’s claustrophobia could be looked at as an
additional disability, and that therefore the respirator was not a reasonable
accommodation to that particular disability. 
Much of the court’s reasoning does center around the fact that her
failure to try the partial-face respirator was unreasonable, and does not
contemplate that that accommodation might not have been sufficient or
reasonable based on her condition.

In Germany, Amazon is facing strikes in its
warehouses due to its opposition to the presence of organized labor
.  The article looks at how other American tech
companies doing business in Europe are also running into difficulties- whether
it is Google and privacy regulations or Apple and antitrust violations.  Amazon specifically is engaged in a dispute
regarding the classification of its workers, with German advocates claiming
that they are entitled to a higher base wage. 
Amazon’s overarching concern is that the presence of unions will slow
down its ability to innovate on the fly, even though it does have a history of
questionable labor practices in the U.S to contend with.  In Germany, which is Amazon’s second biggest
market, the company has substantial expansion plans, and is coming into contact
with a union culture that is stronger than comparable efforts in the U.S, and
that is demanding wage and scheduling changes that are typical in German
industry but not so among retailers like Amazon.