Will we violate the ADA if we enforce our legitimate lifting restriction?

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources

Q. Our restaurant has a written requirement that waiters be able to lift, transport and carry objects weighing from 25 to 30 pounds up to 20 or more times per shift. An applicant for a server job has informed us on his application that he has a condition that prevents him from lifting more than 10 pounds and that there are no accommodations that could be made so he can perform all of the job duties. Are we going to be in violation of the ADA if we deny a job to this applicant?

A. Federal district and appellate courts have consistently held that the protections of the ADA do not apply to a person who is not a “qualified individual” under that act.

The ADA defines a qualified individual as “an individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds or desires.”

The ADA regulations further require that the individual must satisfy “the requisite skill, experience, education and other job-related requirements of the employment position.”

Additionally, ADA law gives deference to the employer’s judgment and written requirements as to what functions are essential, and the employer is entitled to take at face value a job applicant’s “no” answer to a question about whether a disability can be accommodated.

Under the circumstances you have described regarding this particular applicant, whether or not he actually has a disability as defined by the ADA, you probably will not be in violation of the ADA if you deny his application for employment. He is unqualified for the waiter position.

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