Employers know that regular attendance is a requirement in a job. Employees who consistently miss work can wreak havoc on schedules and delivery of products and services. The Sixth Circuit recently issued a decision that stated this common sense principle – an employee who cannot show up to work is not qualified to perform the essential functions of the job.
The employee worked for Ford Motor Co. as a resale buyer and suffered from irritable bowel syndrome. The role required her to have interactions with suppliers and buyers both on the phone and face-to-face. Due to her illness, she was missing 1 to 2 days of work per week.
The employee requested telecommuting options and those were granted with no success as she continued to miss days. She then requested to work from home but admitted that almost half of her functions were not able to be performed from home. Ford offered to move her closer to a restroom at the office or a different position. She refused the accommodations and filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and ultimately filed a lawsuit.
She suffered from poor performance as related to her peers. She was counseled and put on a performance improvement plan. When she failed to improve, her employment was terminated. Her poor performance was well documented.
This case is a good case study for employers who have employees that suffer from medical conditions and request multiple accommodations. Ford granted several of her requests but considered all of them as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Ford engaged in the interactive discussion and determined what accommodations could be granted and what could not. Ford was able to demonstrate that working from home was not reasonable for her job as it required interaction with the customers and suppliers.Back to news