ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS ARE FUNDAMENTAL, NO MARGINAL, UNDER ADA
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Alliant Energy was sued by a former employee for disability discrimination, based on the unwillingness of the employer to allow the employee to maintain a regular shift that would assist in control of his diabetes. The Court determined that a rotating shift can be an essential function of a position, as in this instance, since it could enhance experiences in training and allow them to handle emergencies more effectively in a broad geographic area. It also enhances the non-work life of all employees by spreading the less desirable shifts among all of them. In addition to looking at written job descriptions, the Court determined that among other factors are: (1) the employer’s judgment as to what functions are essential; (2) the amount of time spent on the job performing the function; (3) the consequence of not requiring the employee to perform the function; (4) the terms of the collective bargaining agreement; (5) the work experience of past employees on the job; and (6) the current work experience of employees in similar jobs. The Court found the function of split shifts to be an essential function and further agreed with the employer that its attempt to find an offering of another position was a reasonable accommodation. In regards to engaging in an interactive process to determine a reasonable accommodation, the Court noted that it is not per se violation under the ADA if the employer fails to engage in interactive process, but the failure of an employer to engage in the process is prima facie evidence that the employer may be acting in bad faith. Kallail v. Alliant Energy Corporate Services, Inc. (8th Cir. 2012).