Err on the side of stating the obvious in job descriptions

by on
in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

It's clear that some jobs require employees to work on site and work alongside others. But must you state that fact in every job description? The following case says "No," you aren't required. But it can't hurt to state such obvious facts. It can only help avoid misunderstanding or, at worst, lawsuits like this one.

Recent case: Diane Mason suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing the shootings of Postal Service co-workers. Her symptoms flared up again years later while working for another employer.

She asked to work from home as an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodation. The company denied her request, saying she needed to work on site to schedule service technicians.

She sued, alleging the company didn't accommodate her disability, arguing that her job description didn't stipulate on-site attendance. Both a district court and appeals court sided with the company, saying that even though attendance and teamwork weren't included in her job description, it didn't mean those functions weren't essential to the position. Common sense dictated that they were. (Mason v. Avaya Communications Inc., No. 03-6035, 10th Cir., 2004)

Leave a Comment