Employers Are Not Required to Accommodate Employees’ Requests for Shorter Workday Where Overtime Is an Essential Function of the Job, Eighth Circuit Holds

    An employer may refuse to accommodate a request for reduced hours from an employee with a disability where overtime is an essential function of the job, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held. FN2

    The Americans With Disabilities Act’s (“ADA”) requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to the limitations of otherwise qualified employees with disabilities. FN3 A “qualified” individual is one who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job he or she holds or desires. FN4

    In Faidly v. United Parcel Service of America, Inc., an injured driver who was medically restricted to 8-hour work days asked his employer to work a less demanding position as an accommodation. The court found that the employer lawfully declined the accommodation request FN5 because the employer considered overtime an essential function of the job, which conflicted with the driver’s 8-hour workday restriction. The employer provided persuasive support for its view that overtime was an essential function. Among other things, the employer showed that (1) the position required 9.5-hour workdays, and workloads could increase unpredictably; (2) allowing some drivers to work shorter shifts would require other drivers to fill in and finish deliveries; (3) the overtime requirement was listed in the job description; and (4) the company had bargained over the issue with the union.

Takeaway

    ADA accommodation issues are perhaps the trickiest for employers to navigate. The Faidley case provides clarity on two key points:

1.                Under the ADA, employers must provide “reasonable” accommodation—not any requested accommodation—and are not required to eliminate an essential function of a job to accommodate a worker with a disability.

2.                Employers may greatly benefit by clearly stating and providing justification for a position’s essential functions.

Footnotes

FN1     The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has appellate jurisdictions over federal district courts in Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

FN 2    Faidley v. United Parcel Service of America, Inc., No. 16-1073, 2018 WL 2165842, (8th Cir., May 11, 2018).

FN3     42 U.S.C. § 12112(b)5)(A).

FN4     42 U.S.C. § 12111(8).

FN5     Faidley, 2018 WL 2165842, at *3. The employer in Faidly did offer the injured driver to work a part-time position. The driver declined that offer and sued.

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