The general rule has been that regular and predictable on-site job attendance is an essential function and prerequisite to perform other essential functions. See EEOC v. Ford Motor Co., 782 F.3d 753, 761 (6th Cir. 2015) (en banc). Historically, regular attendance at on-site work has been deemed essential to most jobs, which comports with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Essential functions generally are those that an employer’s judgment and employee’s written job description deem essential. See 42 U.S.C. § 12111(8). EEOC regulations define essential functions as those that are fundamental so that a job is fundamentally altered if an essential function is removed. See 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(n)(1) and 29 C.F.R. § 1630(n), App. 394. Courts have yet to consider whether COVID-19 has changed the presumption that most jobs would be fundamentally altered if regular and predictable on-site attendance is removed. COVID-19 has the potential to change the landscape in handling employee requests for accommodations and on-site attendance requirements. It is critical that employers understand and follow the statutory and regulatory requirements when addressing employee requests for accommodations. For more information regarding labor and employment matters that may impact your organization in the age of COVID-19, and how to implement nondiscriminatory practices please contact William R. Burns, Esq at Carluccio, Leone, Dimon, Doyle and Sacks, LLC. CLDDS attorneys are available to help you navigate and mitigate the legal impacts of COVID-19 as well as any other legal issue.
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