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Indeed zihala has consistently taken the position

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Unformatted text preview: her disability. II. The Department did not breach its duty to provide Zihala a reasonable accommodation. The ADA prohibits an employer from failing to make "reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability . . . ." 42 U.S.C. § 12112(b)(5)(A). The Seventh Circuit has made clear that when an employee needs a reasonable [*21] accommodation, it is the employee's responsibility to request that some accommodation be made. Bultemeyer v. Ft. Wayne Community Schs., 100 F.3d 1281, 1286 (7th Cir. 1996). Once the employee requests an accommodation, the parties must engage in an interactive process in order to identify the precise limitations due to the disability and to determine those accommodations that are necessary to overcome them. Beck v. University of Wisconsin, 75 F.3d 1130, 1135 (7 th Cir. 1996). This interactive process "requires a great deal of communication between the employer and the employee." Bultemeyer, 100 F.3d at 1285. An employer's failure to engage properly in this interactive process leads to liability under the ADA: 190 "Courts should look for signs of failure to participate in good faith or failure by one of the parties to help the other party determine what specific accommodations are necessary. A party that obstructs or delays the interactive process is not acting in good faith. A party that fails to communicate, by way of initiation or response, may also be acting in bad faith. In essence, courts should attempt to isolate the cause of the breakdown and then assign responsibility." [*22] Id. (quoting Beck, 75 F.3d at 1135). Thus, the employer has a duty to "meet the employee half-way" in determining what is an appropriate accommodation under the circumstances. 100 F.3d at 1285. This duty is heightened "in a case involving an employee with a mental illness," because "the communication process becomes more difficult." Id. Zihala claims that she triggered the Department's duty to engage in this "interactive process" through the written rebuttal to her pre-disciplinary hearing. This rebuttal, dated January 14, 1994, was prepared by Zihala's union representative in...
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