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Attention Employers: ADA Reasonable Accommodation Requirements

The American with Disabilities Act does not require employers to give all disabled persons a job, or a job schedule, of their choosing. Rather, the ADA requires employers to reasonably accommodate their disabled employees. Employers should note the use of the word reasonably. A recent case involving the Ford Motor Company helped clarify what is required from employers.

A Ford employee sought to dictate her entire work schedule by working from home four days per week, because of her disability (irritable bowel syndrome). The Court ultimately ruled that Ford did not have to accommodate the woman’s request to work from home four days per week. To come to this conclusion, they looked at a number of factors:

  • Whether physical presence at the office is an essential function of the job.
    1. Crucial to the outcome of this case was that the employee admitted she could not perform four of ten of her essential job functions while at home.
  • The business model of the employer.
    1. The Court recognized Ford’s assembly line type business requires employees to be present at the office to run efficiently.
  • The job performance of the employee.
    1. The Court noted that the employee’s job performance was already subpar, and she was not performing the basic functions of her position. She ranked in the bottom 10% of her peer employees.
  • Job reliability.
    1. The Court stated that the employee’s attendance was already sporadic and unpredictable. On average, she missed 1.5 days per week.
  • The employer’s other efforts to reasonably accommodate the employee.
    1. Here, Ford tried to help the employee in other ways. They adjusted her work schedule by giving her four 10-hour days. They tried working from home on an ad-hoc basis. They offered her other positions that would better allow her to work from home. They offered to move her office closer to the restroom.

Employers should have well designed job descriptions, engage in conversations with disabled employees, and provide reasonable accommodations where necessary.

For more information about the above case, please see Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Ford Motor Company at: http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/15a0066p-06.pdf

Lardiere McNair LLC has a practice in which advises and assists both employers and employees with their employment concerns. If you have any questions about the above, please contact an attorney.

Chad Stonebrook is an Associate Attorney at Lardiere McNair LLC.  To read more about Chad, please visit http://www.lmcounsel.com/chads-bio.html.

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