In the case of Pamela Wilson v. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a disabled veteran employed by the VA was denied permission to park on-site at the Agency’s Atlanta, Georgia offices on Clairmont Rd., an accommodation she sought to address mobility impairments. The district court denied Ms. Wilson’s claims under the ADA. Represented by the attorneys of Radford & Keebaugh, LLC, Ms. Wilson appealed to the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Today, the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Ms. Wilson on her failure-to-accommodate claims, reversing the district court’s order.
The 11th Circuit’s order is here: 11th Circuit Order – Wilson v. VA
You can listen to R&K attorney James Radford’s presentation at oral argument before the Eleventh Circuit here:
Additional detail on the case:
Ms. Wilson is a service-connected military veteran who suffers from chronic degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, facet joint disease, multiple herniated discs, and partial paralysis in both feet. Her disabilities cause functional impairments to her ability to walk, stand, and bend. In February 2009, she was hired as a probationary Veteran Claims Examiner (“VCE”) for the Education Division of the Department of Veterans Affairs (“Defendant” or “VA”). Her work site was the VA Regional Office (“VARO”) in Decatur, Georgia. There was an on- site parking deck at VARO.
However, probationary employees were told not to park there. Instead, they were told to park in an off-site deck, nearly one mile from the work site, and take a shuttle or walk to the VARO. Ms. Wilson could not physically walk the distance, and the shuttle was often not available when she needed it. It was difficult for her to board, and she would often have to stand because it was so crowded. In the first several months of her employment, Ms. Wilson made numerous requests for permission to park on site. Her supervisors made no effort to assess the reasonableness of her requests, which they summarily denied.
In order to get to her work site, Ms. Wilson attempted to park in designated handicap spots on-site, or elsewhere in the on-site parking deck. Despite knowing that she had requested parking accommodations (and likely because of it), her employer issued disciplinary citations each time she parked on site. Only after Ms. Wilson filed an equal employment opportunity (EEO) complaint did her supervisors request medical documentation related to her requests. Defendant ultimately terminated Ms. Wilson for “unacceptable conduct and unacceptable performance.” The documentary and testimonial evidence demonstrates that the dispositive “unacceptable” conduct was Ms. Wilson’s use of on-site parking. In her lawsuit, Ms. Wilson alleged that she was terminated for her attempt to accommodate her disability when the employer refused.