Menu Close

Yvonne Andrade brought an action against defendant City of Milpitas for failure to accommodate her disability and retaliation.

In August 2000, Andrade became a permanent hourly paid employee for the City. Since that time, she has held the position of office specialist for the planning and neighborhood services department, which is located at city hall. Andrade attends planning commission meetings and drafts the minutes for the planning commission and the library commission. She also performs office administrative functions, including generating correspondence, completing forms and other documents for planners, and entering timesheet information into the payroll computer system. Andrade’s job duties require her to be present in the office to assist other City personnel, to answer telephones, to file documents, to interact with other City employees, and to assist at public meetings.

In March or April 2008, Andrade was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Andrade took a medical leave from July to October 2008. In October, her doctor released her to work for 40 hours a week, but placed partial work restrictions relating to lifting and other physical activities. Andrade agreed that the City accommodated these restrictions.

Andrade was hospitalized for a week in November 2008. She was also hospitalized in February 2009 when she was diagnosed with Addison’s disease, arrhythmia, and arthritis. Medication controls the symptoms of her Addison’s disease and her arrhythmia. Andrade periodically receives physical therapy for her arthritis. However, Andrade is in pain every day from fibromyalgia. Sometimes her pain is so severe that she is unable to function and is bedridden.

Andrade used her leave time, including vacation time and sick leave, to enable her to be paid when she did not come to work and she also took leave without pay. Andrade was also allowed to make up missed time by working at lunch time or until 6:00 p.m. No one at the City was critical or complained about her missing work and taking leave without pay or denied her the ability to go home when she did not feel well. In November or December 2008, Andrade spoke to her supervisor, and asked to work from home when she was not feeling well. She told him that this arrangement would vary from two to four hours a week. He told her that she could occasionally work from home on a limited basis.

The City refused to allow her access to the computer systems from her home as this would pose a security threat to City information from outside. Andrade argued that the City failed to accommodate her medical condition because it refused to allow her to perform some of her duties from home. She also argued that the City failed to engage in the interactive process in a timely manner to determine effective reasonable accommodation.

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the City of Milpitas, and Andrade appealed. The Court of Appeal in the unpublished opinion of Yvonne Andrade v City of Milpitas affirmed the dismissal of her case.

An employer is not required to choose the preferred accommodation or the one that the employee seeks.Rather, the employer providing the accommodation has the ultimate discretion to choose between effective accommodations, and may choose the less expensive accommodation or the [one] that is easier for it to provide. As the Supreme Court has held,an employee cannot make his employer provide a specific accommodation if another reasonable accommodation is instead provided. Moreover, an employer is not required to make an accommodation that the employer demonstrates would “produce undue hardship.”

Here, the undisputed evidence was that Andrade requested that she be allowed to work from home for two to four hours per week depending on her health and ability to work. Thus, the City offered a reasonable accommodation for Andrade’s disability.