Sixth Circuit: Full-Time Work is Not an Essential Job Function Under the ADA

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July 17, 2018

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In Hostettler v. College of Wooster, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal recently determined that an employer could not make full-time work an essential function of a job so as to justify failing to accommodate an employee under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). There, the employee suffered from post-partum depression and, based on her physician’s instruction, obtained approval to work part-time. However, her supervisor felt that the employee’s part-time work schedule burdened others in the department. When the employee submitted an updated medical certification requiring continued part-time employment, the supervisor terminated her based on her inability to return full-time.

The Sixth Circuit stated in part that full-time work is not an essential job function on which to base denying accommodations to an employee under the ADA. Rather, the employer must link the full-time work requirement of the position to other job duty requirements. Although full-time work may be required for some positions, it is not unconditionally essential and requires a fact-specific analysis in each case. As a best practice, employers should involve legal counsel before declining an ADA accommodation request to ensure compliance with applicable laws.

Action Items

  1. Have job descriptions reviewed for compliance with the ADA.
  2. Implement procedures for addressing ADA accommodation requests to ensure multiple levels of review before action is taken.
  3. Have applicable personnel trained on addressing ADA accommodation requests.
  4. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2018 ManagEase

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