Sixth Circuit: Full-Time Work is Not an Essential Job Function Under the ADA
Employers with KY, MI, OH, and TN Employees
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.
- Have job descriptions reviewed for compliance with the ADA.
- Implement procedures for addressing ADA accommodation requests to ensure multiple levels of review before action is taken.
- Have applicable personnel trained on addressing ADA accommodation requests.
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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.
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