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Disability Accommodations – When is Attendance “Essential”??

When an individual is suffering from a disability, as defined in the American’s with Disabilities Act, their employer is required to work with them to find a reasonable accommodation that would allow them to complete all of the “essential duties” of their job.  If the individual cannot complete all of the essential duties then they could be terminated even though they have a disability.  Therefore, determining what qualifies as “essential” is a crucial step in the accommodation process.

While courts will generally look to a number of sources to determine what duties are essential to any given job (job descriptions, time sheets, etc.), there are some aspects of work that are nearly always considered to be essential.  Attendance at work is one of these aspects that courts will almost always accept as being “essential” without much further analysis.  However,  a recent decision from a federal court in Indiana shows that courts may be willing to analyze how essential attendance is on a case-by-case basis.  See E.E.O.C. v. AT&T Co., Case No. 1:12-cv-00402-TWP-DKL (S.D. Ind., Nov. 20, 2013).  This case could be useful for anyone whose disability affects their ability to routinely attend work. Continue reading

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