What is an Essential Function of a Job Under the ADA

By hrlineup | 27.01.2021

Disabled employees are experiencing discrimination in the work environment. For example, when hiring, an organization can deny an applicant a job position that the worker believes they can flawlessly perform. Most employers, for example, invite them for interviews. Once the applicant requests special features to continue the process, the employer immediately cancels the interview. This is a violation of the ADA because the employer is considering the applicant a liability who will make the organization incur more costs.

ADA definition

ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is a civil rights protection law for individuals with disabilities in all life areas from discrimination. Discrimination could be in the workplace, educational institutions, or society. ADA ensures that employees with disabilities receive equal treatment regardless of sex, race, color, religion, to name a few.

Essential function

An essential function is a duty an employee holding a specific job position must perform. With the high rate of disability discrimination, essential job function is used to determine a disabled worker. If an employee with a disability cannot complete the essential job functions, they will not qualify for the position. ADA does not protect them from being incompetent. Employers should not feel like they need to hire them even if they have reasonable accommodation.

So, how can you know if a job is an essential function? Only a few persons can perform that job because it requires a special and unique skill that no ordinary employee can perform. For example, only a pilot can fly an airplane.

ADA reasonable accommodation

This is an employer’s changes on a job duty to let an employee with a disability perform the said task effectively. ADA requires that an employee with a disability should request employment accommodations during job applications. This is so that the employer will figure if the request will affect the work’s performance. The following are some of the reasonable accommodations in the workplace that employers need to provide;

  • Reserve a parking space for employees with disabilities so that they don’t take too long to reach the office.
  • In case the employee cannot access a particular product or software, the employer should consider making some adjustments.
  • The work schedule of an employee with a disability should not be the same as the other ordinary employees. If the employee can get a job done, why should you keep them for more extended hours?
  • Some employees with disabilities cannot maneuver around the work area, so you should provide them with some assistance for flexibility.
  • Re-assign the employee with a disability a vacant job post that is similar to the one they hold. For example, in situations where a job post is left open without notice, an employer should assign the task to the disabled employee if the duties are similar. The employee should continue performing an essential function until a replacement is found.

Employers should follow ADA compliance so that employees with disabilities can enjoy the same benefits that other situated employees enjoy. Most of these employees with disabilities perform their tasks seamlessly but with little assistance. Employers should also welcome third parties’ requests, such as trade unions speaking on behalf of the employee with a disability.