The Americans With Disabilities Act requires that workers or applicants not be discriminated against on the basis of a disability, so long as the worker is able to perform the essential functions of the job with reasonable modifications. This is not a blanket requirement that companies accept all workers with disabilities. The caveat that workers must be able to perform essential functions is crucial.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit pointed out in a recent opinion, “The reality is there are some jobs that a person with disabilities are simply unable to perform.” That was deemed to be the case for plaintiff in this instance.
According to court records, plaintiff worked for a telecommunications firm in Tennessee at a call center, where her job as a customer service representative involved answering incoming calls and helping customers with billing and technical support problems. In order to answer those calls, plaintiff had to be physically present at her workstation and logged into the computer. She worked eight-hour shifts, and rotated every six months. During these shifts, customer service representatives had to remain at their work stations, except to use the restroom, to take a half-hour lunch and two pre-scheduled 15-minute breaks. There was no requirement for a per-day minimum, but most representatives generally took on 40 to 50 calls per shift. Continue reading