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Appeals court reinstates NYC worker’s disability bias suit


A federal appeals court overturned a lower court Friday and ruled that the New York City Transit Authority discriminated against an employee who suffered from tendonitis and failed to reasonably accommodate his disability.

After Steven Greenbaum, who worked as a computer specialist with 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 wrist pains, his physician restricted him to 30 minutes of typing or clicking at a time for a total of four hours a day, according to the ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York in 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 “Restricted Work Temporary” and then to “Restricted Work Permanent” to reflect his disability’s indefinite duration, the ruling said.

Mr. Greenbaum filed suit against the agencies, charging they discriminated against him in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, refused to provide him with a reasonable accommodation for his condition, and did not 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 appeals court panel.

In reinstating Mr. Greenbaum’s disability discrimination charge, the panel said the evidence “creates a genuine issue of fact as to whether this impairment affects his ability to perform not just particular computer programming job, but rather a class of jobs involving use of a keyboard or mouse for periods of time beyond the limitations he experienced.”

On the issue of whether accommodation would present an undue hardship, the ruling said Mr. Greenbaum had suggested three voice dictation software programs as an accommodation, which would have allowed him to perform his job’s essential functions.

“We hold that he has met his modest burden of proposing” a plausible accommodation whose costs do not exceed its benefits, the ruling said.

The panel upheld dismissal of Mr. Greenbaum’s interactive process claim.

The case was remanded for further proceedings.

Attorneys in the case did not respond to requests for comment.