Businesses might have to help disabled workers commute

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to reasonably accommodate disabled employees at work…but a new court decision says that they might also have to help disabled employees with their commute.

Barbara Nixon-Tinkelman, who worked for a city agency in New York, was hearing-impaired and suffered from cancer, heart problems and asthma. When her employer reassigned her to spend nine months working in Manhattan rather than a more convenient location in Queens, she asked for help with her more difficult commute.

A federal judge sided with the agency, say it didn’t have to accommodate the woman because commuting was “outside the scope of her job.”

But on appeal, a higher court sided with Nixon-Tinkelman. It said the agency had a legal obligation to consider a number of possible accommodations, including transferring her back to a more convenient location, letting her work from home, or providing her with a car or parking permit so she didn’t have to use public transportation.