MGT 2010 Lawsuit Under the Americans with Disabilities Act Questions

DescriptionDebra worked as one of two hairdressers at a nursing home. On Mondays and
Tuesdays, she pushed residents in wheelchairs from their rooms to the nursing
home’s beauty shop to do their hair and then wheeled them back afterward. On
other workdays, Debra mainly did the hair of residents who didn’t require
wheelchair assistance.
After undergoing surgery, Debra returned to work with a permanent pushing
restriction of 50 pounds. Her doctor said pushing wheelchair-bound residents could
cause additional physical damage that would likely require her to have another
surgery.
Debra suggested that others push the wheelchairs for her on Mondays and
Tuesdays. However, the nursing home’s administrator rejected the idea and refused
to restructure Debra’s duties because the pushing restriction was “permanent.”
Debra quit and sued under the ADA. Until Debra’s position was filled, the
remaining hairdresser received assistance from other staff in wheeling residents to
and from the beauty parlor, without any “undue hardship” to the facility or its
residents.
Although a lower court initially dismissed the case on the grounds that pushing
wheelchairs was an “essential function” of the position, an appellate court
disagreed and sent the case back for jury trial.
1. What could Debra’s manager have done differently to prevent a lawsuit?
2. Was Debra right to sue under the ADA?
3. Is it possible that Debra could have done something differently to better
communicate to her manager about the seriousness of her disability?
4. What could upper level managers in this organization do to keep a case like this
from happening again?

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