Can my employer prevent me from driving into work if I have a disability?
The U.S. has laws regarding being fired for discriminatory reasons, on the basis of protected classes such as age, race, gender, nationality, handicap, or religion. However terminations for business budgetary reasons alone aren’t illegal. Wrongful discharge claims are often made on the basis of discrimination against a protected classification. If an employee isn’t protected by an employment or union contract, they are typically at-will employees who may be fired for any or no reason without notice. If a contract, such as a collective bargaining agreement applies, employees may be required to be given a fair warning as to their performance and conduct which might lead to their dismissal, as well as a step-by-step procedure leading up to dismissal.
Generally, as long as an employee is not wrongfully discharged, and the layoff terms of a contract aren't violated, the position may be filled with another employee at the same or a lower wage, unless prevented by wage standards under a collective bargaining contract with a union, prevailing wage laws, etc. For example, an employee may be wrongfully discharged, in violation of an employment contract, collective bargaining agreement, or for discriminatory reasons based on age, sex, race religion, nationality, or disability.
An employer is required to make a reasonable accommodation to the known disability of a qualified applicant or employee if it would not impose an "undue hardship" on the operation of the employer's business. Undue hardship is defined as an action requiring significant difficulty or expense when considered in light of factors such as an employer's size, financial resources, and the nature and structure of its operation.
It will be a matter of subjective determination for the court, based on all of the facts and circumstances involved. In US Airways, Inc. v. Barnett, 535 U.S., 122 S. Ct. 1516 (2002), the Supreme Court laid out the burdens of proof for an individual with a disability (plaintiff) and an employer (defendant) in an ADA lawsuit alleging failure to provide reasonable accommodation. The plaintiff/employee is only required to prove that an 'accommodation' seems reasonable on its face. Once the plaintiff has shown that the accommodation s/he needs is "reasonable," the burden shifts to the defendant/employer to provide case-specific evidence proving that reasonable accommodation would cause an undue hardship in the particular circumstances. There is case law that activities that fall outside the scope of the job, like commuting to and from the workplace, are not within the province of an employer's obligation under the ADA