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Working overtime can be an essential function of the job

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources

Marvin Davis agreed to work overtime when he accepted a job under a collective bargaining agreement with Florida Power & Light Co. But after he aggravated his back while working as a lineman, he moved to light duty. Eventually, he applied for and received a position connecting and disconnecting service, a job in which workers averaged more than 200 hours of overtime a year.

Two years into this new position, Davis' doctor recommended he work only eight hours a day. Davis demanded that Florida Power promise him that he'd never have to work overtime again unless he wanted to. The company offered him a transfer but he refused. Soon after, Davis was fired.

He sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act and lost. The 11th Circuit court said that Davis' inability to work overtime disqualified him from ADA protection. Since he could not work overtime, he could not perform an essential function of his job and was, therefore, not a "qualified individual with a disability" as defined by the ADA. The decision goes against an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission argument that working overtime can never be considered an essential job function. (Davis v. Florida Power & Light Co., Nos. 99-4076 & 99-10524, 11th Cir., 2000)

Advice: Overtime can be an essential job function as long as it is not just a convenience or peripheral aspect of the job. Thus, if no reasonable accommodation is possible for employees who are unable to perform overtime due to physical impairments, you can safely remove them from the job.

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