On March 16th, Jim McMullen and Tara Gillman won summary judgment on behalf of a well-known local beverage company. The plaintiff complained that a “disability,” which allegedly developed during employment, prevented him from continuing without accommodation. After the company offered the plaintiff reasonable accommodations, including special equipment and a permanent job reassignment, he was terminated when he refused the jobs that the company had offered. He was thanked and encouraged to reapply for open positions that he could perform. Despite periodically viewing the jobs board on the company’s website, Plaintiff never reapplied. The plaintiff later claimed that other positions that he could have performed were available but not offered to him prior to his termination. He also claimed that the large company was constantly hiring positions that he could and would have performed but was neither alerted to the openings nor called back to work.
The Court (San Diego Superior Court—North County) issued a very thorough decision in which it disposed of all eight causes of action brought by the plaintiff, including failure to accommodate, failure to engage in the interactive process, and disability discrimination. The Court emphasized that an employer need not offer the “best” accommodation but merely a “reasonable” one. (Hanson v. Lucky Stores, Inc. (1999) 74 Cal.App.4th 215, 228.) The Court also stated that at some point the burden is on the employee to identify a reasonable accommodation that he would accept. (Scotch v. Art Inst. of Cal.-Orange County, Inc. (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 986, 1013; Jensen v. Wells Fargo Bank (2000) 85 Cal.App.4th 245, 263.) In this case, the Court concluded that the employer established that it had offered the employee multiple reasonable accommodations, all of which he rejected. Thus, termination was appropriate.