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ADA Alert: Define Essential Job Functions Before Anyone Requests Reasonable Accommodations

August 19, 2012
Source: Business Management Daily

Unless you are willing to risk losing an ADA reasonable accommodations lawsuit, do not wait to define the essential functions of the jobs of your employees. Courts frequently defer to employers that have clearly spelled out both essential and nonessential job functions before a disabled employee requests an accommodation. However, they often view with suspicion attempts to create essential functions after a request has been made.

Recent case: Karin worked for Farmers State Bank of Hartland as the loan processor. Part of her job also involved auditing the compliance of the bank with federal lending laws. It was a full-time, salaried position.

She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2004 and experienced a severe relapse in 2006 that caused fatigue, impaired mobility, balance problems and discomfort. She began making more frequent trips to her medical caregivers.

By the following summer, Karin believed she needed reasonable accommodations for her condition. She requested permission to attend medical appointments during regular banking hours, along with more flexible hours so she could work weekends and evenings. Some of her requests were approved.

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