A Voluntary Transfer Is Not an Adverse Employment Action


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the rather obvious point (although apparently not to the employee) that when an employee voluntarily requests – and the employer agrees – to a transfer, the employee has not experienced an adverse employment action for purposes of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In Laird v. Fairfax County, Virginia, an employee with multiple sclerosis was initially granted generous accommodations that eventually proved to be unworkable. The employee filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which was resolved by granting her request for a lateral transfer. Finding the new job not to her satisfaction, she then sued her employer for “demoting” her.

The Fourth Circuit, however, stated that her claim “fails for a simple reason: If an employee voluntarily requests a transfer, and the employer agrees to it, there is no actionable adverse action.” It cited to a sister Circuit in further asserting, “a transfer cannot be ‘because of a disability’ if it occurred as the result of an employee’s own request.”