Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
An otherwise qualified person is one who is able to meet all of a program's requirements in spite of his handicap. In the employment context, an otherwise qualified person is one who can perform "the essential functions" of the job in question. When a handicapped person is not able to perform the essential functions of the job, the court must also consider whether any "reasonable accommodation" by the employer would enable the handicapped person to perform those functions. Accommodation is not reasonable if it either imposes "undue financial and administrative burdens" on a grantee, or requires a fundamental alteration in the nature of the program.
Petitioner Vincent L. Chalk is a certified teacher of hearing-impaired students in the Orange County Department of Education. In February of 1987, Chalk was diagnosed as having Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Subsequently, the Department reassigned Chalk to an administrative position and barred him from teaching in the classroom. Chalk then filed this action in the district court, claiming that the Department's action violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C.A. Section 794 (West Supp. 1987), as amended, which proscribes recipients of federal funds from discriminating against otherwise qualified handicapped persons. Chalk's motion for a preliminary injunction ordering his reinstatement was denied by the district court, and Chalk brought this appeal.
Did the district court err in placing the burden on Chalk to prove that he did not pose a significant risk of communicating an infectious disease to others?
The court held that the district court improperly placed the burden on Chalk to prove that he did not pose a significant risk of communicating an infectious disease to others. The court also held that it was error for the district court to require Chalk to disprove every theoretical possibility of harm and that the non-monetary deprivation involved in preventing Chalk from using his teaching skills and interacting with the students was a substantial injury which the district court was required to consider.