Important Notice:
This site has moved to, please update your bookmarks. If you were looking for a specific post, you can use the site search option, archives, or categories at the new domain to find it. Thank you!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

how do I tell disabled employees they can't have a handicapped parking space?

A reader writes:

I work in a call center of approximately 2,000 employees of which 1,500 are customer service representatives. In order to accommodate such a large staff, we have completely revamped our parking policy. In the past, our CSRs were allowed to park on our main campus for one reason or another. The campus has parking for 410 employees only, so some of our middle managers were forced to parked at one of our two satellite locations. To better align our parking based on role, the company moved all CSRs to one large satellite location which accommodates over 1,000 cars and provides shuttle service to transport our associates to and from. All middle managers and above are now assigned a specific space on campus.

We have also doubled the number of handicap spaces to accommodate our associates in need and they were assigned as well on a first come, first serve basis. How do I say to our handicapped associates, who did not get an on-site space, that there are no more handicap spaces available? Our senior management is totally against saying this right out, and wants me to find a way to say no without really saying no.

The law does require that we provide 1 handicap space for every 25 spaces we have on our lot. That we have done, plus extra handicap spaces have been provided. We are out of handicap spaces and have provided on-site spaces, but not handicap spaces. Now, we have no spaces left. How do we say this in a nice manner?

Why? Why wouldn't you want to provided handicapped employees with spaces that are easier on them?

Is there some problem where employees are pretending to need handicapped parking when they really don't? I mean, in junior high I used to keep an ace bandage in my locker so that I could wrap up my wrist with it and pretend to have a sprain so that I could get out of gym class, but I really doubt that you have a bunch of adults who are feigning disability.

So assuming that you have employees with a genuine need, give them the spaces.

And if you don't want to -- which I find inexplicable -- then there's a little law called the Americans with Disabilities Act that's probably going to require it anyway. Explain that to your senior management who are making this request of you.

If this means that some of your managers have to park in the satellite lot and ride the shuttle, well, so be it. Assign the remaining spaces based on seniority. If the ones who have to take the shuttle complain that they should get a closer space over someone with a disability, that'll tell you a lot about their character.


Kerry said...

I'm blown away that this is an issue.

In my experience, recruiting and retaining CSRs (good ones, anyway) is not easy. Why would you want to say to good employees who have a physical disability, "Sorry, you lose!" Over parking spaces? That's nuts.

I don't need a special parking space, but if you treated the person next to me like that, I'd notice, and I'd get the hell out of there.

Make enough spaces so all of your disabled employees who need a space get one.

(I also kept an Ace bandage in my locker throughout junior high to get out of gym. Last week my four-year-old said she didn't want to go to school because it was Monday, and Monday is gym day. I see an Ace bandage in her future too.)

Anonymous said...

Our senior management is totally against saying this right out, and wants me to find a way to say no without really saying no.

Cause they don't want to be sued.

Anonymous said...

If I'm understanding this question correctly, handicapped associates had been getting handicapped spaces at the campus lot. Now the company is out.

In order to keep with ADA regulations, the satellite parking locations should have handicapped spaces. As long as the shuttle is handicapped accessible, I don't see a problem.

The writer should have the company talk to its lawyers and see if those satellite handicapped spaces are sufficient.

Anonymous said...



I hope you're actively looking for a new employer. These guys are going to get your company in trouble sooner or later and do you really want to be there when it happens?

My building has stairs for those of us who can't leap from floor to floor in a single bound. Handicapped spaces, ramps, elevators all serve the same purpose- to get employees and clients from place to place.



I mean- really!

Lois Gory

Athena Marie said...

I have been an avid reader of your blog but I have never commented. I am just really curious to see the outcome of this situation and to have the OP possibly respond to some questions. It's a tough situation, but if I were in middle management, I'd take a spot at the other location so that a disabled person could have a closer spot. There has to be a "low man on the totem pole" in middle management that would be required to give up their spot.

Anonymous said...

Hi - we are the middle managers that aren't whiny, selfish crybabies and even though we have the "minimum number of handicapped spots required by law plus a few extra", if there are still more employees who honestly need to park closer, we are fine with parking further away. That is all.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, middle managers! If you're this fierce on a blog comment board (where no one was calling you whiny or selfish), imagine how spine-tingling you'll sound when you tell your bosses "there is absolutely no way to tell the employees this without us getting sued for lots and lots of money."

To be fair, AAM seems to be going off on the OP for making this decision, when it sounds to me like OP's bosses made the decision and then ordered OP to be the shootable messenger.

Amanda said...

The law the OP mentions about having one handicapped-accessible space per 25 regular spaces are probably only planning and zoning requirements, which are the minimum spaces required by the municipality for the parking lot redesign plans to be approved. The facilities manager (or whomever is in charge of this parking project at the company) didn’t think to figure out how many employees would need the spaces, and doesn’t want to have to deal with remarking the lot and ensuring ramps are available.

The poor managers at the firm shouldn’t have to deal with a mistake by doing the right thing. That would be dreadful.

Anonymous said...

I think that you would be sadly surprised to hear how often it does happen where employees pretend to be disabled or have a doctor verify they are disabled to help reduce walking distance in a parking lot or other various things they don't want to do while at work. However, these same employees have no trouble doing many active things during their non-working hours (yes usually it is a small town so news travels fast). I have been at several different sites of several different Fortune 500 organizations and have seen it at every manufacturing site. It is a discouraging situation but not that uncommon.

That being said, regardless of if it is a fake disability or not, if the employee has the documentation to support a need then they should receive a designated spot.

William said...

First, I am not a lawyer, but I think there are a couple of misunderstandings here. First, the law that refers to a certain percentage of spaces being reserved as handicapped is generally intended to accommodate handicapped visitors, not employees. If you are reserving these spaces for your employees, you may (note, may, again, IANAL) already be in violation of local and federal laws.

However, for the issue of assigning parking to your handicapped employees, I am going to have to side with the company. I think AAM and the posters are missing the point here. The issue is the distance an employee has to walk to get to the workplace from their parking spot, not which lot that parking spot is in.

The original poster stated that the on-site lot holds 420 cars, and that there is a shuttle from another lot. Lets say the company has exactly 420 handicapped employees. Now, lets say the company did as AAM suggests, and put all 420 employees in reserved spaces in that lot. Now, some employees are near the door, and have a walk of less than 100 yards. Other employees, however, have a walk of over 500 yards. There we have a clear violation of the ADA, and a very good group discrimination suit. Why?

There is a shuttle, which we can assume is handicapped accessible, which stops in the alternate lot. The shuttle stop can be considered a new entrance to the building, and handicapped spaces must be provided in a reasonable proximity to this shuttle stop if there are not enough spaces available in a reasonable proximity to the entrance to the facility.

In other words, if you force a handicapped employee to walk 500 feet from the farthest spot in the main lot, because you take AAM's suggestion, rather than assign the employee a spot within 100 yards of the shuttle, you are not accommodating the employee's handicapped status.

(Note: In writing this, I am mostly considering handicaps that affect mobility. There may be handicaps that would give a priority to on-site parking, as may the severity of the handicap - a wheelchair bound employee might be given preference for an on-site space, while an employee who uses a cane may be relegated to the off site lot.)

Anonymous said...

Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights issue. Zoning laws for accessible parking spaces is a planning regulation. Complying with zoning laws does not mean the company has complied with the civil rights law.

The civil rights law says that an employer must make a 'reasonable' accommodation for a person with disabilities. Assigning a parking spot that already exists for an employee that is already on staff would definitely qualify as a reasonable accommodation. The people this letter-writer should be saying 'no' to are the middle-managers who are too lazy to take the shuttle.

Anonymous said...

AAM, I agree with you, however, my agreement means nothing. The issue isn't the number of handicapped spots but rather the ratio of handicapped spots required by location, # of employees etc. Notice I said nothing about actual need. Thank the powers that be on that one = federales. Is this stupid? Hell YES.

btdt, got the shirt..cap & cup. I'm also grateful my crew has a keen sense of decency. btw I lead by example, sneaks on, hoofing it.

Anonymous said...

AAM, compliance link:

Anonymous said...

To deny handicapped parking spaces for disabled employees is a violation of the ADA; this is grounds for a lawsuit.

Lani said...

The issue here isn't distance traveled between handicap-park to work-place, it's distance walked.

Unless the on campus car parks are arranged AROUND the office building like a border/moat, I would imagine that most people would be better off walking a couple of metres from satellite park to the shuttle to front door, than across an entire carpark solely reserved for handicap parking