An employee who is categorically unable to comply with an employer’s valid workplace safety requirement is not a “qualified” individual under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), even if the safety requirement is not part of the “essential functions” of the employee’s position, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Articles Discussing The "Otherwise Qualified" Requirement Under the ADA.
On December 9, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found that a former employee did not meet the definition of a “qualified individual” to afford protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because of her failure to comply with a valid safety requirement for her position.
In recent years, particularly with technology making it easier for employees to work remotely, courts have struggled to determine whether onsite attendance is an essential job function under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
A recently filed federal court case should serve as a reminder to employers that medical advances often make the impossible possible and, as a result, can make the unqualified qualified under ADA. Although the suit asserts a constitutional violation and not a claim under the ADA, the lesson is worth heeding by the conscientious non-governmental employer.
Sharon Walker (“Walker”), a high school business teacher, brought suit against the Pulaski County Special School District (“PCSSD”) claiming that she had been discriminated against and retaliated against because of her disability in violation of the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). PCSSD filed a motion for summary judgment, and on May 1, 2017, it was granted by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
A federal court in Texas has dismissed a nurse’s disability discrimination and retaliation claims because she failed to establish she was qualified to perform the duties of her position with or without reasonable accommodation even after the EEOC found the employer’s six-month cap on leaves of absence violated the American with Disabilities Act. Salem v. Houston Methodist Hospital, C.A. No. 4:14-1802 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 30, 2015).
Executive Summary: The Sixth Circuit has reversed the decision of a lower court and held that a deaf individual should be permitted to proceed to trial on his claim that a prospective employer discriminated against him on the basis of disability by failing to hire him as a lifeguard. Keith v. County of Oakland, (6th Cir. Jan. 10, 2013). In reviving the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claim, the Court found that a jury should be permitted to determine whether the individual was otherwise qualified to be a lifeguard, with or without accommodation, that is, whether hearing is an essential function of the job and, if so, whether reasonable accommodations could have been made.