“Denial of Disabled Lawyer’s Request For ‘Shadow’ Assistant Wasn’t Bias”

How far can an employee go in ADA demands before finally going too far? [Charles Toutant, New Jersey Law Journal]

The lawyer, a deputy attorney general known as E.H. in court papers, made 30 requests for special treatment in the course of his first year on the job—ranging from reserved indoor parking, adjusted timing on elevator doors, a grab handle in the rest room and transportation to court appearances—all of which were granted.

He sued because his 31st request—for a personal assistant who would “function as his shadow”—was refused.

On Thursday, an appeals court ruled that the Attorney General’s Office did not violate laws against disability discrimination. The court said deference was due the findings of the Civil Service Commission that an assistant was not warranted because it would not help E.H. address his weak job performance.

When the Americans with Disabilities Act was new, there was hopeful talk among some disability advocates of what some wary employers nicknamed “two-for-one” hiring — demands that a second employee be put on payroll to assist the first. While courts have generally declined to go along with this idea, it is sobering to think the issue might be close enough that the worker’s very poor job evaluations might have mattered one way or the other.


  • It is illegal to discriminate against the handicapped and an employer is obliged to make reasonable accommodations for them. If it is a reasonable accommodation to hire a personal assistant for a handicapped lawyer, then that personal assistant may well himself be handicapped and therefore entitled to a personal assistant, who is also potentially handicapped and therefore entitled to a personal assistant, who might also be handicapped and hence entitled to a personal assistant, until the whole organization runs into the Amway problem: Nobody wants to do the actual work, everybody wants to extend his downline.

  • Being a non-lawyer type, it would seem he’s not qualified for the job he was hired for if he needs an assistant to perform it for him.

    And let’s not forget the vicious circle Jack mentions.

  • Your argument contains a false assumption, Jack. You assume that an employer hires an employee to perform work. That is not the government’s understanding and you need to get with the program.