Attendance Is Essential Function for Temporary Employee


A leave of absence is not a reasonable accommodation for a temporary employee, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

In Punt v. Kelly Services, a temporary employee was diagnosed with cancer soon after beginning an assignment at GE, and began missing work, which required another temp to cover her duties as a receptionist. She was terminated from her assignment at GE, and subsequently sued both GE and staffing agency for a failure to accommodate under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The 10th Circuit, however, found that the employee had not requested a plausibly reasonable accommodation because she did not provide information as to the expected duration of her impairment and how much leave she would need. In addition, the 10th Circuit held that leave was not a reasonable accommodation for a temporary employee, because her requested accommodation would have required GE either to function without a receptionist or to accept a “super-temporary” employee to fill in for her. Moreover, reporting to work was a necessary part of the job that, based on her work history and vague requests for leave, she could not fulfill.

This decision suggests that the reasonable accommodation obligation for host employers using temporary staffing agency employees may not be as extensive as that for regular employees.