Spotlight for Recruiting ProfessionalsFebruary 6, 2013
A recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati held that, under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), the rarity with which a particular job function is performed does not make it non-essential.
Jackson Lewis LLC reports that the court’s unpublished decision in Wardia v. Department of Juvenile Justice affirmed a summary judgment for the employer, which held that the function of performing physical restraints—even though not frequently performed—is an “essential job requirement” under the ADA.
In the case, John Wardia, a youth worker at a juvenile detention center, could no longer physically restrain individuals because of a neck injury. He received a temporary accommodation to work in the center’s control room, but surgery didn’t improve Wardia’s condition, and his doctor deemed the disability permanent.
Placed on disability leave for one year and to be considered as having resigned after that, Wardia requested permanent reassignment to the control room, which was denied. In turn, Wardia sued the center for violating the ADA by failing to accommodate his physical disability.
The district court, however, found that the ability to perform physical restraints was an essential job function and the ADA did not require the center to reassign Wardia to the control room on a permanent basis as an accommodation. The ruling prompted Wardia’s appeal.
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