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Consultants' Corner
Volume 01 Issue 14

Parking and the ADA, Act I

From the desk of Linda Carter Batiste, J.D.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many employers increased security. Some employers responded by moving parking several hundred feet from work-site buildings. Others removed parking for employees all together. Recently, JAN received several calls asking about the responsibilities of employers to provide parking under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This edition of the Consultants' Corner addresses one of these questions.

Question: Does an employer have to provide parking for an employee with a disability as an accommodation under the ADA when it does not provide parking for other employees?

Answer: Maybe. This is a difficult question to answer because the ADA does not clearly address the question. Generally, the ADA requires employers to make reasonable accommodations that enable employees with disabilities to enjoy equal employment opportunities. Reasonable accommodation includes "making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities," but whether this means providing parking is uncertain. If an employer provides parking for all employees, then it must provide parking for employees with disabilities, unless it would pose an undue hardship to do so. But, does an employer have to provide parking for employees with disabilities when it does not provide parking for other employees?

There are two ways to look at this issue. First, you could argue that an employer is only required to provide reasonable accommodations that eliminate barriers in the work environment and parking is outside the work environment. Therefore, an employer would not have to provide parking as an accommodation, unless parking is provided for other employees. Alternatively, you could argue that an employer is required to provide parking as an accommodation because otherwise some employees with disabilities would not be able to access the work-site, and therefore providing parking is a way to provide equal employment opportunities to employees with disabilities. Unfortunately, we cannot say which argument is right.

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