The Seventh Circuit reversed the lower court's dismissal
and found that "the
does indeed mandate that an employer assign employees
with disabilities to vacant positions for which they are
qualified, provided that such accommodations would be
ordinarily reasonable and would not present an undue
hardship to the employer." The Supreme Court refused
United's subsequent request for review on May 28, 2013.
EEOC Appellate Attorney Barbara Sloan handled the appeal
and Supreme Court briefing for the agency.
"The appellate court's decision provided an important
clarification regarding an employer's responsibility
under the ADA to provide a reasonable accommodation so
qualified employees may lead economically independent
lives," said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez. "I am
pleased this major decision also served as a springboard
for the strong monetary and non-monetary remedies in
EEOC Regional Attorney William Tamayo said, "If a
disability prevents an employee from returning to work
in his or her current position, an employer must
consider reassignment. As the Seventh Circuit's decision
highlights, requiring the employee to compete for
positions falls short of the
ADA's requirements. Employers
should take note: When all other accommodations fail,
consider whether your employee can fill a vacant
position for which he or she is qualified."
EEOC San Francisco Acting District Director Michael
Connolly noted, "We commend United for agreeing to make
these important companywide changes that will enable
employees with disabilities to stay employed at jobs
they are qualified to do, as was intended under the ADA's protections."
According to the company website, United Airlines
has almost 84,000 employees in every U.S. state and in many countries
around the world. The air carrier has the world's
most comprehensive route network, including
mainland hubs in Chicago,
Houston, Los Angeles,
New York / Newark,
San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
and operates an average of nearly 5,000 flights a
day to 373 airports across six continents.