Ed Murray, Mayor
Patricia Lally, Acting Director
810 Third Avenue, Suite 750, Seattle WA 98104-1627
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For Immediate Release
The Supreme Court Holds Violating Seniority System is not a Reasonable Accommodations
Robert Barnett vs. US Airways.
The plaintiff Robert Barnett, was a cargo handler for US Airways. He injured his back while working for US Airways and invoked seniority rights to transfer to a less-physically mailroom position. Mr. Barnett learned two employees with greater seniority planned to bid on his job. He asked the company to make an exception to the seniority system and allow him to reamin in the mailroom as an accommodation. US Airways decided not to make an exception to its seniority system, and Mr. Barnett lost his job.
Mr. Barnett sued US Airways, claiming it had violated the ADA by refusing to make an exception to its seniority system. US Airways argued that the ADA does not require an employer to reassign a disabled employee to a position as a reasonable accommodation when another employee is entitled to hold the position under the employer's bona fide seniority system.
The Supreme Court held that in most cases, the ADA does not require an employer to violate a bona fide seniority system as a reasonable accommodation. However, the Court also held that an employee is free to show special circumstances that would make an exception to a seniority system a reasonable accommodation.[Return to Top of Page]
Discrimination: Speaking with a Foreign Speaking Accent
Anne Stone vs. Paul H. O'Neill, Secretary, Department of the Treasury (Bureau of Public Debt). The following EEOC decision is very important to Latino, Asian Americans,and all who frequently are not promoted because of management's concerns with their accents when speaking English. The write-up that follows is taken from the EEOC's Digest of EEO Law, Vol XIII, No. 2, Spring Quarter 2002.
Direct evidence found. The agency found direct evidence of national origin (Korean) discrimination where the selecting official said that complainant would never be promoted because her accent made her too difficult to understand. The agency found no evidence that complainant's accent would have interfered with her ability to perform a Budget Analyst position. On appeal, the Commission found that the agency failed to meet its burden of showing, by clear and convincing evidence, that it would not have promoted complainant during the period at issue even absent discrimination. The Commission noted that the agency had ample opportunity to produce such evidence. EEOC noted that a mere assertion of a legitimate motive without additional evidence is insufficient in direct evidence cases such as this one. As part of relief provided to complainant in this case, the Commission ordered promotion with back pay. Stone v. Department of the Treasury (Bureau of Public Debt), EEOC Appeal No. 01A02572 (July 6, 2001), request to reconsider denied, EEOC Request No. 05A11013 (January 10, 2002).
To view the full decision, go to EEOC site at http://www.eeoc.gov/decisions/01a02572.txt
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