SJC issues new 'qualified handicap' test for jobs with safety risks

Massachusetts' antidiscrimination statute, Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 151B, has long required employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities and conduct individualized inquiries to determine if a requested accommodation can be granted. However, an employee who cannot perform the essential functions of his job, even with a reasonable accommodation, is not "qualified" under Chapter 151B, and an employer that terminates or refuses to hire him may not be liable for disability discrimination, even if it admits that the decision was based on the disability. Recently, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), the highest court in the Commonwealth, issued a decision that may be helpful to employers wrestling with whether an individual is "qualified" under Chapter 151B. Read More...