BUSINESS LAW: Rotating shifts and the ADA

2012-10-27T11:00:00Z BUSINESS LAW: Rotating shifts and the ADAJames L. Jorgensen Times Business Columnist
October 27, 2012 11:00 am  • 

In our last article, we discussed whether transferring a qualified disabled employee to a vacant job position was a required reasonable accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Today, we examine a similar issue: is allowing an employee to move from rotating shifts to straight daytime work a required reasonable accommodation under the ADA?

Consider these facts: An employer required a group of employees to work rotating shifts. One purpose of the rotating shifts was to provide adequate experience and training for the employees.

One of the employees had Type I insulin dependent Diabetes (clearly a disability under the ADA). The employee, and her doctor, repeatedly requested that she only work straight days. The employer repeatedly refused the request, stating that working rotating shifts was an essential function of the job position.

However, the employer on several occasions, offered to transfer the employee to different jobs which only worked a day shift. In each instance, the employee rejected the offers.

Eventually, the employee sued under the ADA. She claimed the employer failed to provide her with a reasonable accommodation when it denied her request to only work a day shift.

The employee could only prevail if she established that she could perform the essential functions of her job, with or without reasonable accommodations.

The court determined that the rotating shift was an essential function of the employee's position. It found the employer had included the rotating shift in its written job description. Because the employee could not work a rotating shift, she was unable to fulfill the essential function of her job without an accommodation.

The employer also prevailed because it went out of its way to offer the employee other straight day positions. When the employee rejected each of them, it made it easier for the court to rule for the employer.

Opinions are solely the writer's. James Jorgensen practices law at Hoeppner Wagner & Evans in Valparaiso.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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