“Employees should feel safe at work. But not everyone is that fortunate, including an assistant manager at a Burger King who was attacked at gunpoint when attempting to make a bank deposit on behalf of his employer,” Christopher P. Maugans writes in Buffalo Law Journal. “He allegedly suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Burger King denied his request for an accommodation by changing his work schedule, prompting an interesting and illustrative recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.” The employee resigned and filed suit for “failure to make a reasonable accommodation and retaliation,” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
In his article, Chris — an associate in the Employment and Labor Practice Group — explains the different types of reasonable accommodations that are specific to varying jobs, and what a plaintiff must prove to win a suit under the ADA. Chris focused on the central important of whether the employee is “qualified to perform the essential functions of the job (with or without reasonable accommodation.” The question in this case, Chris explained, was “whether working a rotating shift was an essential function of the job for an assistant manager at Burger King.”
The court ruled that working a rotating shift was an essential job function for Burger King employees. “In other words, accommodating the employee permanently would have had the adverse impact of inconveniencing all other assistant managers who would have to work unattractive shifts in response to the assistant manager’s fixed schedule,” Chris concludes. “Also, since the employer avoided liability largely because its requirements were laid out clearly and in writing, it highlights the critical importance of training employees and managers on employment laws, including the ADA.”