Participation in Leave Donation Program Would Not Have Allowed Employee to Perform Essential Function of Her Job
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit found that an employee’s request to utilize donated leave would not have enabled her to perform an essential function of her job – physical attendance – and therefore it was not a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In Winston v. Ross, the employee, who suffered from several different ailments, exhausted all of her sick leave. She was granted a flexible work schedule, but her request to telecommute was denied because her position required her in-person presence. Eventually, the employee was unable to continue working and her employment was terminated, She then sued for disability discrimination under the ADA, which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to enable a disabled employee to perform the essential functions of her job.
The Tenth Circuit found, however, that the employee was not qualified to perform the essential functions of her job because the reasonable accommodation that she requested – to participate in the donated leave program – “would allow her to be away from work for health reasons, but it would not enable her to fulfill the essential function of physical attendance.”