Essential Functions

News & Analysis as of

Reasonable Accommodations Under the ADA Do Not Require Changing a Job's Essential Functions

Weldon Williams, a pharmacist, suffered from diabetes which limited his ability to stand for extended periods of time. Williams sued his former employer Revco Discount Drug Centers, Inc., d/b/a CVS Pharmacy, Inc. ("CVS")...more

Beyond Essential Functions: The Role of Job Reassignments in Accommodating Employee Disabilities

Imagine for a moment that you are the HR Manager for a company with many physically demanding jobs. One of your employees submits a doctor’s note prohibiting her from lifting anything over 25 pounds. Mindful of your...more

Fifth Circuit Finds Attendance to be Essential Job Function

In recent years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has taken the position that regular job attendance may not be an essential job function under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Under the ADA, employers are...more

“Waive” Goodbye to Employer Liability Under the ADA for Voluntary Accommodations of Essential Job Functions

An employer faces a difficult situation when a temporarily disabled employee who cannot perform his or her essential job functions requests an accommodation. This situation becomes significantly more complicated when the...more

FedEx Cannot Exclude Diabetic Applicant From Mechanic Position Based on Need to Test Drive Trucks

The Americans with Disabilities Act contains a provision allowing exclusion of disabled persons from jobs when their medical condition contradicts federal licensing requirements. In practice, this exclusion has applied most...more

Pregnancy-Blind Light Duty Policy Not Enough To Obtain Summary Judgment On Pregnancy Discrimination Claim In New Sixth Circuit...

The Sixth Circuit recently held that a certified nursing assistant (CNA) should be permitted to take her Pregnancy Discrimination Act claim to trial even though the employer terminated her based on its facially neutral policy...more

No Duty to Explore Cause of Poor Performance Absent Notice of Correlation to Disability

A federal district court in Washington refused to require an employer, absent some notice from an employee of the need to do so, to investigate the cause of the employee’s poor performance to explore whether it might be...more

N.D. of Texas – Attendance is an Essential Job Function

The Northern District of Texas has issued a fantastic opinion for employers concerning a recurring question under the ever evolving Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Specifically, whether attendance can be an essential...more

Fifth Circuit Issues First of Several Pro-Employee Decisions: ADA Accommodations Need not Relate to Essential Job Functions

The Fifth Circuit, which covers federal district courts from Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, has been busy recently issuing decisions in the employment law arena. Surprisingly, many of these decisions from this...more

Recent ADA Decision Might Signal Broadening of the ADA’s Accommodation Provisions

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently held that accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are not limited to job modifications that enable an employee to perform essential job...more

Fifth Circuit Says No Nexus Required Between Reasonable Accommodation And Essential Functions

The vast majority of requests for accommodation aim to help an employee to perform the essential functions of his or her job. As a result, a large body of case law has developed, defining reasonable accommodations as changes...more

“Essential Functions” Under the ADA Can Include Job Functions that are Infrequently Performed

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires covered employers generally to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities. The ADA provides, however, that the employee must be able to...more

Employer’s Judgment About What Constitutes an Essential Job Function Carries Substantial Weight

Is being 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 Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, that answer...more

Timely Arrival At Work Not Always An Essential Job Function

In a case involving a schizophrenic employee whose medication caused him to feel drowsy and sluggish in the morning, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that on-time arrival at work is not always an essential job...more

Employer Has No Obligation to Provide “Light Duty” Assignment Under FMLA or ADA

Employers often assign light duty to employees who are returning to work after recuperating from illnesses or injuries. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held, however, that neither the Family and Medical Leave Act...more

California Employer Should Have Engaged In Interactive Process Before Firing Employee

Prock v. Tamura Corp. of America, No. E054185 (January 25, 2013): In an unpublished opinion, a California Court of Appeal recently overturned the dismissal of a lawsuit where the employee was fired while on a leave of absence...more

No Violation of FMLA to Refuse Request for Light Duty Before Return to Work

Employers sometimes offer light duty work to employees who are recuperating from injuries, illnesses, or other medical conditions, when they cannot yet perform the essential functions of their jobs. Employers may have a...more

Is Being On Time an Essential Function of Job? Second Circuit Says Most Times But Not Always

Let’s start with the premise, as the Second Circuit does, that “In many, if not most, employment contexts, a timely arrival is an essential function of the position, and a plaintiff’s inability to arrive on time would result...more

Rarely Performed Duties May Still Be Essential

Even a rarely performed job function may still be "essential" under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently ruled in Wardia v. Department of Juvenile Justice. ...more

Amended Disability Regulations: The California Fair Employment and Housing Commission Clarifies “Interactive Process” for Disabled...

Employment and Housing Commission (“FEHC”). These regulations clarify an employer’s obligation to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled employees and applicants, and emphasize that employers must engage in a prompt,...more

Disability Discrimination Claim Failed Where Employee Admitted Her Disability Made It Impossible For Her To Fulfill Her Job Duties

An employee brought a lawsuit against her employer claiming disability discrimination after she was terminated from her employment. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the employee could not...more

Permanent “Light-Duty” Position Not Reasonable Accommodation for Disabled Employee Under the ADA

In an unpublished opinion, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld the dismissal of a case in favor of an employer who refused to convert a temporary light-duty position into a permanent job for a disabled...more

Police Department Is Not Required To Rehire Disabled Officer Who Is No Longer Able To Perform Essential Functions Of The Job

In Liu v. City and County of San Francisco (--- Cal.Rptr.3d ----, Cal.App. 1 Dist., December 11, 2012), a California court of appeal considered whether a city police department violated the California Fair Employment and...more

Employee’s Request to Move from Rotating Shift to Straight Shift not a “Reasonable Accommodation” under the ADA

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently addressed an issue of concern frequently raised by employers: whether allowing an employee to move from rotating shifts to straight daytime work is a required “reasonable...more

An Indefinite Exemption From The Essential Functions Of A Job Is Not A Reasonable Accommodation Under The ADA

An issue that confounds employers on a regular basis is whether the discharge of an employee who is unable to return to work after a medical leave will violate the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Most employers...more

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