An employee tells you that he has medical restrictions. The doctor’s note says the employee has leukemia and heart problems and as a result cannot work overtime. If you are the HR director do you start figuring out if you can make the accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act? Not so fast.
The Fourth Circuit recently ruled in Boitnott v. Corning Inc. that an employee with these very same conditions was not disabled — even under the revised ADA, which lowered the standards for determining if an employee is disabled. In analyzing the claim, the Court held that although the employee clearly suffered from physical impairments, those physical impairments did not "substantially limit" the employee from working since he could work 40 hours per week.
This decision is helpful for employers who have overtime needs that may be sporadic and not necessarily an "essential job function", but, nonetheless need to be covered by employees. The Court’s decision is not an absolute safe haven for employers facing this type of accommodation request. Rather, the Court did note that there might be some circumstances where, given the employee’s training and available jobs in the area, the inability to work overtime due to a medical condition might significantly limit an employee’s ability to work and thus, qualify as a disability.
Disability accommodation issues remain confusing. As always, when in doubt, we recommend consulting with a legal professional before making a determination that you do not have to accommodate an employee.
(Photo Credit: Marcin Wichary)