On July 17, 2014, the 7th Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the employer in an ADA failure-to-accommodate case. Reeves v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc., No. 13-3782 (7-17-2014). In order to establish a failure-to-accommodate claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act, an employee must demonstrate that: (1) he or she is a qualified individual with a disability; (2) the employer was aware of the disability; and (3) the employer failed to reasonably accommodate the disability. A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to the work environment that enables a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of his or her job. Once an employee requests a reasonable accommodation, the employer is required to engage in a flexible interactive process to identify the necessary accommodations. If the employee does not provide sufficient information to the employer to determine the necessary accommodations, the employer cannot be held liable for failure-to-accommodate under the ADA.
InReeves, the 7thCircuit found that the employee did not make reasonable efforts to help the employer decide what reasonable accommodations were necessary. A tentative accommodation request that did not directly address the work issue that needed accommodation, without follow-up or other suggestions from the employee, was not enough to provide sufficient information to the employer. Consequently, the employer was not held liable for failure-to-accommodate under the ADA.