Is a regular shift a reasonable accommodation?

I am a supervisor who works 12 hour rotating shifts that go from day to night and vice versa in a 7 day period. I suffer from fibromyalgia and the doctor recommends a 12 hour day shift the same number of hours for 12 weeks to help regulate medication.  Can I be fired or denied?

Posted  02-25-2015

Ann Kiernan replies:

While under some circumstances a shift change can be a reasonable accommodation of a disability, that is not always the case.  For instance, in Colwell v Rite Aid Corp., 602 F.3d 495 (3d Cir. 2010), a cashier who could no longer drive at night because of an eye problem was held entitled to a schedule change to day shifts only. On the other hand, in Turco v. Hoechst Celanese Chenicl Co.,101 F.3d 1090 (5th Cir., 1996), a different federal appeals court held that there was no duty to create a day-shift job for a chemical operator with diabetes who could not work a rotating shift. And a third federal appellate panel found that rotating shifts can be an essential function of the job for a utility company worker, and that, therefore, an employer need not accommodate an request for a straight shift from a diabetic employee. Kallail v. Alliant Energy Corporate Services, Inc., 691 F. 3d 925 (8th Cir. 2012)

As you can see, these cases are very fact-specific, so I urge you to consult a local employment lawyer to learn more about your rights in your particular situation. Good luck.

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.


About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.