Intellectual Property Law

The Supreme Court Ruling in US Airways vs. Robert Barnett

In 1990, Robert Barnett sustained back injuries and could no longer carry out the heavy lifting duties needed of his cargo handling job at US Airways. He was then transferred to a mailroom job using his seniority. After two years his mailroom job was opened for offering. Two employees, more senior to Robert Barnett, placed their bid for the job. Barnett made accommodation appeals, but after five months he was informed that he no longer had the mailroom job, but he could bid for other jobs in the company.

The US Supreme Court ruled US Airways vs. Barnett case in 2002. The Supreme Court concluded that since the accommodation appeals clashed with seniority statutes, the request was deemed unreasonable. The court, though, did not enforce a tough and express elimination in the existence of seniority rule. The appeal for accommodation varied with the regulations of the seniority structure; thus, the accommodation was not rational. The US Airways had contained Robert Barnett, a cargo handler, by placing him to a mailroom position. The mailroom position was, however, subject to seniority based bidding, and the US Airways rejected Barnett’s accommodation request of not unlocking the position to superiority bid. The petitioner was removed from the mailroom position when a senior member of staff bid for the position.

The Supreme Court remanded the case with the direction that the junior court should consider whether the applicant had proof to show exceptional conditions that would draw into subject the US Airways unjustified destitution defense. The Supreme Court ruling favored US Airways because unlike Title VII, there was no constitutional BFSS protection in ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Justice Souter indicated that Barnett took his burden of demonstrating that his appeal was realistic and that it would not influence the airline business. The Supreme Court ruled out that a relocation request that clashes with any form of seniority arrangement is typically not practical as a subject of law.

In the US Airways vs. Robert Barnett case, it can be established that both workers and companies have an obligation to amenably cooperate on matters of logical accommodation. It can, therefore, be concluded that the Supreme Court conserved Robert Barnett’s right to demonstrate that he was unlawfully neglected in agreement with the ADA without inserting an unjustified burden on the defendant. 

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