Our recent blog post about what is a reasonable accommodation for ADA purposes focussed on a case where a hospital contended that an employee’s request to be transferred to another job was not reasonable because the duties of the other job were similar to those of the current one.
We wrote that “We wonder about the legal sufficiency of the hospital raising the comparative demands of the two jobs as part of its defense: is it, in fact, a good defense? And we wonder about the necessity of Plaintiff having to introduce testimony intending to show that the requested job was less demanding. The Court never answered these questions, and cited no caselaw; finding issues of fact, the Court was able to avoid the issue.”
In response, Mark Knoth, a Michigan attorney, made an important comment about the need for clear and accurate job descriptions, which employers should memorize:
“The real challenge for employers going forward is to create job descriptions which clearly and accurately define essential job functions. One of the most difficult hurdles in defending an ADA case is overcoming an employer’s job description which either inaccurately defines a job or identifies a job duty as “essential” when it really isn’t. Employers and HR professionals in particular can help make future ADA claims more defensible by accurately defining jobs and correctly parsing out essential functions. Too often when examining a case I find that jobs are inaccurately defined or that an employee’s duties have changed and that a job description is not up to date. The ADAAA, which seeks to take the focus away from whether a person has a disability and place it on whether an employer has accommodated a condition, magnifies the importance of accurate job descriptions.”