Beyond Essential Functions: The True Scope of ADA Reasonable Accommodations

Does an employer need to provide an ADA reasonable accommodation for a non-essential job function – such as the ability to enter the workplace in a certain manner?

A recent court decision and EEOC say yes!

In the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) case, the employee said that her psychiatric disability caused her trauma when using revolving doors. Typically, all employees utilized the building’s revolving door to enter the workplace, but there was another non-revolving door that could be used, if the employer granted permission.

The employee requested use of that door as a reasonable accommodation and the employer refused. The employer argued that ingress or egress were not essential job functions and, therefore, did not need to be accommodated. Notably, the court disagreed and held that a reasonable accommodation need not relate to the performance of an essential function of the job; employees with disabilities are also entitled to accommodations to access the workplace and to enjoy the same benefits and privileges of employment as other employees.

The employer ended up owing the employee $130,000 and agreed to allow the EEOC to monitor its future ADA reasonable accommodation efforts.

 ✴️The takeaway for employers is that they must look at reasonable accommodations for all aspects of the job – even ones that would seem to only be tangentially related to the work performed.

✔️The ADA: Your Responsibilities as an Employer-click here to visit the EEOC's Page on ADA.

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