In October, 2015, I wrote a blog about reasonable accommodation in a plant where everyone on the production floor had the same job title; because all workers operated under one title, they each shared the same list of essential functions. The idea was that everyone was required to rotate to any essential function that needed people. In that blog, I explored the challenge of creating an essential function job analysis and accommodating the individual who requested reasonable accommodation under Title I of the ADA.
This weekend, between sessions of stacking firewood, I reread several court cases which look closely at the tug of war between the employer having the right to define the essential function of the job, the employer acting in good faith by suggesting options for accommodation, the individual not providing medical documentation of her disability, and the refusal of the individual to consider any accommodation except the one she suggested.
(See: Jeanne Gratzl v. Office of the Chief Judges of the 12th, 18th, 19th and 22nd Judicial Circuits. No. 08-3134, as heard in the United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit; also Silvia Yovtcheva v. City of Philadelphia Water Department, as heard in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; also Gile v. United Airlines, Inc. No.95-3432 as heard in the United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit. No. 95-3432)
The bottom line in these cases reaffirms these concepts:
The employer’s right to combine two jobs into one under the business necessity doctrine
The employer’s right to craft the list of essential functions for a new position
The employee’s responsibility to participate in the interactive process with good faith by trying an offered accommodation
The option of the employer to not create (or recreate) a new position to accommodate an employee
The right of the employee to refuse to use an offered accommodation
The consequence of the employee insisting that there is only one accommodation that is acceptable; by rejecting the proposed accommodations, she was responsible for terminating the interactive process and hence not entitled to relief under the ADA
These cases, along with Catherine Robert v. Board of County Commissioners of Brown County, Kansas may be the references some of you need as you formulate your company policy regarding reasonable accommodation under Title I of the ADA.