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Unformatted text preview: her disability.
II. The Department did not breach its duty to provide Zihala a reasonable
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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- Spring '08