In 2012, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in EEOC v. United Airlines, 693 F.3d 760 (7th Cir. 2012), took a step toward shoring up the judicial disagreement when it joined other courts and held that, absent a bona fide seniority system, reassignment as a reasonable accommodation requires employers to place employees with disabilities in a vacant position for which they are qualified, provided that such accommodations would be ordinarily reasonable and would not present an undue hardship to the employer. This is true even if there are more qualified applicants for the position. United appealed the court’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case.
Under the terms of the consent decree announced in June 2015, United will pay over $1 million to a small class of former employees and will implement changes to its national reassignment policy so that it is consistent with the Seventh Circuit’s ruling. Many in the disability rights community are hopeful that the United Airlines ruling and consent decree will have a ripple effect among employers.
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Do you think the United Airlines ruling will have a ripple effect among employers of healthcare workers?