Adele, a fully qualified specialized registered nurse, is deaf. She relies upon an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter to communicate with hearing individuals in the workplace. Adele applied for a job with Marigold Mercy Receiving and Trauma Center (“MMRTC”), a large medical center that, with all its hubs and subsidiaries, grossed $1.3 billion annually. Adele received a job offer, conditioned upon a health screening and clearance by MMRTC’s occupational health department. She was in fact cleared, but she notified MMRTC that she needed an ASL interpreter as an accommodation for her hearing impairment. The annual salary, including benefits, for her position was approximately $75,000. Upon investigation, MMRTC calculated that the annual cost to MMRTC for the ASL interpreter accommodation would be $120,000; there was the need for a full time interpreter for Adele, plus several situations where two ASL interpreters would be required. In considering Adele’s request for accommodation, the hiring supervisor wrote in an email that the department’s annual budget allocation could not absorb the “excessive cost of the additional personnel” of ASL qualified interpreters “for this one nurse.” MMRTC determined the additional salary and overhead for the interpreters would be an “undue hardship,” making the accommodation unreasonable. Therefore, MMRTC did not hire Adele. Did MMRTC violate ADA?
1. Was MMRTC within its legal rights to refuse the accommodation and thus not hire Adele on the basis of undue hardship? In considering this case, you should review:
(a) what is considered a “reasonable” accommodation under ADA;
(b) sample accommodations listed by ADA (42 U.S.C. 12111(9) (2018)) and the EEOC (www.eeoc.gov); and
(c) the definition and standard for “undue hardship” (42 U.S.C. 12111(10)(a) (2018)); and
(d) any case law – what do the courts consider undue hardship?
2. Are there ethical considerations involved in this case beyond what is required by the “letter of the law” and if so what are they?