Magazine article HRMagazine

Classroom with Windows Was Reasonable Accommodation

Magazine article HRMagazine

Classroom with Windows Was Reasonable Accommodation

Article excerpt

Ekstrand v. School District of Somerset, 7th Cir., No. 11-1949 (June 26, 2012).

A school district violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it refused to transfer a teacher who had been diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder to a classroom with external windows, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

Renae Ekstrand taught kindergarten in the school district of Somerset, Wis. In the spring of 2005, she was relocated to a classroom with no exterior windows in a busy, loud area of the school. Ekstrand spoke with her principal several times to request a change of classroom, and although the principal worked to make the existing classroom more hospitable, she denied Ekstrand's requests to switch rooms.

In the fall of 2005, Ekstrand began to experience symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression. Both her psychologist and her primary care physician recommended that she take a leave of absence due to illness. Ekstrand's initial leave was only three months, but it was later extended through the 2006-07 school term. At trial, both parties argued over whether the school district was aware of Ekstrand's capability to return after she received her initial three-month leave of absence but before the leave was extended-roughly the time between October 2005 and January 2006. …

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