A federal appeals court overturned a lower court on Friday, ruling that the New York City Transit Authority discriminated against an employee who suffered from tendinitis and failed to reasonably accommodate his disability.
After Steven Greenbaum, who worked as a computer specialist in the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority’s Office of Management and Budget, which is part of the NYC Transit Authority, began suffering from pain in his wrist, his doctor limited him to 30 minutes of typing or clicking taken for a total of four hours a day, according to the ruling of the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York i Steven Greenbaum v. New York City Transit Authority, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Corp., Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority.
He was placed on leave, with his employment status changed to “Limited Work Temporary”; and then to “Limited Work Permanent” to reflect the indefinite duration of his disability, the ruling said.
Mr. Greenbaum sued the agencies, alleging that they discriminated against him in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, refused to provide him with a reasonable accommodation for his condition, and failed to engage in the appropriate interactive process required by the ADA.
The federal district court dismissed the case, which was partially reinstated by a three-judge panel of the appeals court.
Reinstating Mr. Greenbaum’s disability discrimination charge, the panel said the evidence “creates a genuine issue of fact as to whether this disability affects his ability to perform not just a particular computer programming job, but rather a class of jobs that involve the use of a keyboard or mouse during periods of time beyond the limitations he experienced.”
On the issue of whether accommodation would constitute an undue hardship, the ruling said that Mr. Greenbaum had proposed three voice dictation programs as an accommodation, which would have allowed him to perform the essential functions of his job.
“We find that he has met his modest burden of proposing” a reasonable accommodation whose costs do not outweigh the benefits, the ruling said.
The panel approved rejection of Mr. Greenbaum’s interactive process claim.
The case was remanded for further processing.
Attorneys in the case did not respond to requests for comment.