194 Absences Exceeds Boundaries of ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ Under ADA

What’s a reasonable accommodation for absences due to disability? For a Cargill Meat Solutions employee, it was 194 days of missed work over a twelve month period. Cargill accommodated employee Sheena Lipp’s needs due to an incurable lung disease for more than two years. Her accommodations included lifting assistance, limited work hours and a clean working environment. Cargill allowed her additional time off work for sick days and allowed her additional leave time of nine months to care for her ailing mother. Upon her return to work, she received notification of her placement on a “Last Chance” attendance policy, which she violated two weeks later. The District Court and Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed Cargill went out of its way to accommodate Lipp. Lipp’s inability to “meet the basic requirements of her employment”, which in this case included attendance, made her unqualified for the job under the ADA. Learn more about the Cargill case and how this could affect your company’s policies.

This was one of three cases in separate Circuit Courts which allowed termination of an employee for violation of attendance policy even when that employee alleges a disability. In each case, the employer demonstrated a formal attendance policy and allowed the employee absences in excess of those listed in the policy. In the Second Circuit case, the Court found the employee was not qualified for her job based on her lack of attendance. The Eighth Circuit case determined attendance to be an essential job function of the employee’s position. Read the details of each of these cases and how these decisions could affect your company’s policies here.