IS PUNCTUALITY AN ESSENTIAL JOB ELEMENT?
Most people think so, but now a federal circuit court has raised the possibility that it might not be in every case. For generations employers have fired employees for failing to report to work on time. In this case before the court, the employee had problems arriving on time because of a disability and asked for a reasonable accommodation allowing him to arrive late from time-to-time. Although allowed to do so for a while, the employer changed its mind and suspended him when he was not timely. The employee lost his discrimination case before a U.S. District Court, but the Circuit Court declared that although punctuality was normally essential, “physical presence at or by a specific time is not, as a matter of law, an essential function of all employment.” It sent the case back to the lower court to examine the facts of this individual’s situation rather than merely accepting the employer’s assertion that it is. That opens the door to a potential ruling that there are some jobs where punctuality is not essential. This will be an interesting case to follow. See McMillian v. City of New York, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 4454 (2d Cir. Mar. 4, 2013),