job at issue. The essential functions of a job are the fundamental job duties of the position
the individual holds or desires. The term “essential functions” does not include the marginal
functions of the position. A job function may be considered essential if:
the reason the position exists is to perform that function;
there are a limited number of employees available among whom the
performance of that job function can be distributed; and/or
due to the function being so highly specialized, the incumbent in the position was hired for her expertise or ability to perform the function.
Employer’s Obligation to Reasonably Accommodate
Employers are obligated to make “reasonable accommodations” to allow qualified
individuals with a disability to work. Reasonable accommodations commonly include:
making existing facilities readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities;
restructuring the job, modifying work schedules, reassigning the employee to a vacant
position; or (iii) acquiring or modifying equipment or devices, adjusting or modifying
examinations, training materials, or policies, and providing qualified readers or interpreters.
The obligation to make reasonable accommodations, however, does not include
lowering quality or production standards or providing personal use items (i.e., glasses or
hearing aids). Further, employers need not make an accommodation that imposes an “undue
hardship” on the employer. An undue hardship involves significant difficulty or expense.
Whether a “hardship” is “undue” may depend on the employer’s size, financial resources and
the nature/structure of operations.