Is An Accommodation Always Required?


January 21, 2022
By: Charles Lamberton

Not always, according to a recent opinion from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Jeffrey Jessup sued Barnes Group, Inc. under the ADA and claimed that the employer did not provide a reasonable accommodation for his disability. Unfortunately for Mr. Jessup, he repeatedly claimed that he was totally disabled from work due to his anxiety and depression. The District Court and the Court of Appeals both found that this was an admission that there was no reasonable accommodation that could help Mr. Jessup perform his job. As such, the courts determined that Mr. Jessup was no longer qualified for his position and his employer was free to terminate his employment. It is unclear from the court’s opinion whether Mr. Jessup sought a finite period of additional medical leave as a reasonable accommodation. Had he done so, the outcome may have been different. Many employees find themselves totally unable to work for a period of time because of their disabilities. Both the EEOC and many courts have held that under such circumstances, a brief period of medical leave should be considered as a possible reasonable accommodation. This case is a good reminder why employees with disabilities who need a reasonable accommodation should consult with an experienced employment lawyer for help.