Anesthesia tech who requires "work buddy" is disabled and doesn't qualify for accommodation; supervisor criticism isn't retaliation
Stanley Williams worked as an anesthesia technician for the University of Michigan Medical Center. He developed severe sleep apnea and sought accommodations in his employment. His doctor recommended that he return to work with a "work buddy" to prevent errors. The doctor also recommended shift adjustments including part-time and a late start. The University agreed with the latter requirements, but not the "work buddy," deeming Williams work too dangerous to be accommodated in that manner. Williams eventually was released from that restriction and returned to work with the other restrictions. He then filed suit alleging discrimination in failing to adopt the "work buddy" accommodation. He also claimed retaliation by his supervisor.Stressing the third-party safety concerns inherent in Williams' job, the Court of Appeals ruled that his case was not one of discrimination because his condition "prevented him from performing the inherent duties of his job." On that basis, the Court did not need to address the lower court's further ruling that providing a "work buddy" is not a reasonable accommodation under the circumstances.
The Court also held that criticism by the supervisor, if it is not "severe and pervasive," did not constitute an illegal adverse employment action, particularly in the presence of reasonable, positive performance reviews and similar treatment of other employees.