Acts And Laws Summaries Case Studies Example
US AIRWAYS, INC. v. BARNETT
No. 00-1250. (December 4, 2001--Decided April 29, 2002)
Certiorari to the United States court of appeals for the 9th circuit
Did the U.S Airways go against the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA or Act) and discriminate against Robert Barnett (a qualified employee) by refusing to accommodate his disability by allowing him to remain in the mailroom (Walker, 2014).
The district court granted the Airways company summary judgement i.e. they disposed of the case without a trial in favour of the company and against Robert Barnett. They found out that altering the seniority would result in an unnecessary ‘undue hardship” to both the US Airways and the group of its employees who are not disabled (Walker, 2014). The lower courts denied both parties an opportunity to seek summary judgement in accordance with the set principles saying that the seniority system will prevail in the run of cases.
In 1990, Robert Barnett who is the plaintiff and respondent of the case injured his back while working in a cargo handling position at the US Airways which is the petitioner. By invoking of his seniority rights he transferred to a less physically demanding job, that of a mailroom. As per the US Airways’ seniority system, some positions including that of mailroom becomes vacant and open to seniority-based employee bidding. Robert Barnett implored the company to allow him to remain in the mailroom position citing his disability-imposed limitations. The US Airways considered the matter for five months after which it decided not to make an exception. As a result, Robert lost his job (Walker, 2014).
This prompted Barnett to file a suit claiming that the US Airways had discriminated against him by refusing to assign him the job. His claims were that he was an “individual with a disability” and capable of performing the core functions of the mailroom job. He also claimed that the mailroom post was akin to a “reasonable accommodation” of his physical disability. The US Airways moved for a summary judgement supporting its motion with appropriate affidavits. It contended that its pre-existing well-established seniority system granted other senior employees the right to obtain the mail room position (Walker, 2014).
US Airways claim that a seniority system wins over a conflicting accommodation demand depends centrally upon the view of how the Act treats workplace “preferences”. A requested accommodation violates a disability-neutral workplace rule such as a seniority rule by granting the disabled employee preferential treatment. According to the US Airways, The act seeks only “equal treatment for the disabled”. For Barnett, however, the statutory words “reasonable accommodation” means only “effective accommodation” .It authorises a court to make its decision to consider the ability of the requested accommodation to meet a person's disability-related needs and nothing more. Therefore, a violation of the seniority rule that has nothing to do with the accommodation’s effectiveness has little if anything to do with its “reasonableness” (Walker, 2014).
The District Court ruled in favour of the US Airways’ by finding out that the undisputed facts about seniority warranted summary judgement in its favour. The American Disability Act says that an employer who does not make the “reasonable accommodations to the known limitations (mental or physical) of an employee with a disability “discriminates. This is unless the employee can demonstrate that the accommodation would inflict an undue hardship on the activities of its business” (42 U. S. C. §12112(b) (5) (A) (Walker, 2014).
Walker, K. (2014). Comparing American disability laws to the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities with respect to postsecondary education for persons with intellectual disabilities. Nw. UJ Int'l Hum. Rts., 12, i.