The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the “most effective” accommodation is not necessary for an employer to meet its obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
In the case before it, Alfred Noll was a deaf software engineer working at IBM. The company provided him with a sign language interpreter, internet-based real-time transcriptions and video relay services to help him do his job. However, Mr. Noll complained that there was a delay in his receipt of transcripts and lack of on-screen translation of videos. He asked for an intranet video with captions and transcripts for all audio files. IBM refused these accommodations. Mr. Noll sued for failure to accommodate, a form of disability discrimination.
Mr. Noll lost at the district court level and on appeal. He argued that there was a factual dispute over the effectiveness of IBM’s accommodations. Rejecting Mr. Noll’s argument, the Second Circuit found that the ADA only requires an effective accommodation. IBM was not required to provide the best accommodation. Further, no dispute was shown as to whether the accommodations provided worked; Noll only challenged the speed and convenience of the translation services provided. Finally, the court concluded that the ADA did not impose any liability on IBM for failing to further discuss accommodations with Mr. Noll when he was already being given reasonable accommodations.