Physical attendance not required? ADA and telecommuting, cont’d

by Walter Olson on May 5, 2014

If employers think they’ve got discretion to decide whether a job requires on-the-spot attendance, they’ve got another think coming [Daniel Schwartz, Jon Hyman]:

In EEOC v. Ford Motor Company, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals found that a former Ford employee could proceed to a trial on her claim that the company was required to allow her to telecommute on a regular basis. …

[The plaintiff was a] “resale buyer” at Ford who responded to emergency steel supply issues to make sure that parts manufacturers always had an adequate steel supply on hand.

According to Ford, her job required group problem solving, including interaction with other members of the resale team and suppliers….

[The court said that while] attendance at work is still an essential function of most jobs, “attendance” can no longer be assumed to mean presence at the physical workplace.

Instead, the court said, a jury should decide whether physical attendance is an “essential function” of the job under all the circumstances. Earlier here and, at Cato, here.

{ 3 comments }

1 Richard Nieporent 05.05.14 at 8:38 am

Instead, the court said, a jury should decide whether physical attendance is an “essential function” of the job under all the circumstances.

Because a jury of random people after listening to a few hours of testimony will be able to understand exactly what is required to perform this job without ever having done this type of work. What will we have next, the Court determining what are the essential functions for playing professional golf? Oh, wait..

2 MattS 05.05.14 at 1:40 pm
3 SkipTheDrive 05.05.14 at 5:11 pm

Though I’m all about telecommuting, if the job necessitates/requires that the employee be there, that should be the end of the discussion.

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