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Total Articles: 13

Who decides whether a job function is “essential” for purposes of the ADA?

In a recent unpublished opinion, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a carefully considered and well-structured instruction for those who want to further understand the concept of “essential functions” of a position in cases under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Bagwell v. Morgan County Commission, No. 15-15274 (11th Cir., January 18, 2017). There, the Court made it clear that an employer sets the essential functions of a position, based on business needs.

Company’s work-from-home policy did not replace essential function of regular, predictable attendance.

A policy allowing an individual to work from home does not vitiate the fact that punctuality and predictable attendance are essential functions of a position. According to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, an employee’s ongoing tardiness – although numerous modifications had been made to her schedule and workload to allow flexibility in light of the individual’s multiple sclerosis (MS) – supported the employer’s argument that the employee was not “qualified” for the job, and led to summary judgment in the employer’s favor. Taylor-Novotny v. Health Alliance Medical Plans, Inc. 7th Cir., No. 13-3652, November 26, 2014.

Yes! Regular, Reliable Attendance at Work IS Important under the ADA After All!

No matter what position the EEOC might take, I'll always take the position that an employee's regular, reliable attendance is an essential function of the job. So, when an employee wants to arrive at work at any time, without any repercussions, it's not a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. And I have a recent court case to prove it.

Reasonable accommodation sought by disabled employee must enable employee to perform 'essential functions' of original job.

In an unpublished opinion, the6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held that an employee who was unable to complete the functions of her job while on part-time duty could not subsequently claim that ongoing part-time work was a reasonable accommodation for her disability. White v. Security First Associated Agency, Inc.,et al, 6th Cir., No. 12-1287, June 28, 2013.

Written job description did not sufficiently indicate the essential nature of night shift in emergency dispatcher position

One federal district court has ruled that a night-shift emergency dispatcher with diabetes and hypertension, whose doctor stated that the individual’s health would be improved by working day-shifts, could proceed on his claim that an employer’s refusal to allow him to work days violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Szarawara v. County of Montgomery, EDPA Case No. 12-5714, June 27, 2013. In denying the employer’s motion to dismiss at the initial stage of the litigation, the court rejected the argument that language in a job description requiring employees to be able to work “various shifts” made working the night shift an essential function of the job. In addition, the court refused to accept the employer’s argument that the employee should have tried other ways to improve his condition before seeking to change his night-shift schedule.

Employer's judgment about what constitutes an essential job function carries substantial weight.

Is the ability to be licensed to drive a commercial vehicle an “essential function” of a warehouse manager’s position, even though that manager rarely is required to drive? According to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, that answer depends largely upon the job description developed by the employer, and not on the employee’s specific personal experience in the job. Knutson v. Schwan’s Home Service, Inc., 8th Cir., No. 12-2240, (April 3, 2013).

8th Circuit upholds jury's decision that if employee is prohibited by his doctor from engaging in the essential functions of his job, no accommodation is necessary.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that jury was justified in finding that an employer is not required to engage in an onsite evaluation to interactively create a reasonable accommodation for a disabled employee, if a treating physician’s restrictions would prevent that individual from performing those essential functions at all. Hohn v. BNSF Railway Co., 8th Cir., No. 12-1041, February 28, 3013.

Employer's Insistence That Worker Comply With Attendance Policy Is Not A Failure To Accommodate

In a case that "tests the limits of an employer's attendance policy," a federal appellate court recently upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a nurse who requested a waiver from her employer.

Requiring Employees to Explain Health-Related Absences May Be Unlawful

In E.E.O.C. v. Dillard’s, Inc., a federal district court in California ruled that a retail chain’s attendance policy, which required employees to provide a doctor’s note identifying the nature of a health-related absence for such absences to be excused, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Issue: Employee's inability to work overtime is not a per se disability under the ADA.

The 4th U.S. Court of Appeals has dismissed an employee's lawsuit, holding that the individual's inability to work overtime hours was not a substantial limitation that would entitle him to the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Boitnott v. Corning Incorporated, 4th Cir., No. 10-1769, February 10, 2012.

Hospitality: Cooking And Cleaning May Be "Essential Job Functions" Even For Managers.

A federal appeals court decision provides some significant insight into what courts may consider to be "essential functions" of restaurant managers, in a case that arose under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Richardson v. Friendly Ice Cream Corporation.

Medical intern unable to perform the essential functions of a first-year resident could not support ADA claim.

A medical intern who misdiagnosed patients (including mistakenly identifying a patient as deceased), prescribed inappropriate medications or incorrect dosages, and who was “extremely argumentative” with his supervisors and co-workers was unable to perform the essential functions of his job and therefore, according to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, was not a qualified individual with a disability for purposes of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Attendance at Work is an Essential Function of the Job in Most Instances.

In an unpublished opinion, the 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held that an employee of the New York City Department of Education could not establish a prima facie case of disability discrimination, because she could not prove herself to be “otherwise qualified” within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).