SW Legal studies in Business

Overtime May Be Essential Requirement of a Job
Description Appeals court held that when a job category routinely requires employees to work 60-80 hours per week, if a disability does not allow an employee to work more than 40 hours per week, then there is no obligation to restructure the workforce to accommodate the smaller workload.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Disability; Accommodation; Overtime
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Davis was a systems engineer for Microsoft, responsible for the company's Gateway and Toshiba accounts. His workload required him to work 60 to 80 hours per week, the norm for people in such positions. After nine years at Microsoft, Davis was diagnosed with hepatitis C. His physician advised that he reduce his work week to 40 hours to deal with the disease. Davis requested a cut in duties. Microsoft determined that there was no position for him, and moved him to the inactive employee status, which gave him six months to find another position within the company. After nothing could be found that would allow only 40 hours of work, Davis was fired. He sued for disability discrimination, contending that a work week in excess of 40 hours was not an essential function of his employment. The jury awarded Davis $2.3 million; Microsoft appealed.
Decision

Reversed. To determine whether a particular function is essential to the performance of a specific job, the following criteria may be considered: 1) the employer's judgment as to which functions are essential; 2)written job descriptions; 3) the amount of time spent on the job performing the function; 4) the consequences of not requiring the employee to perform the function; 5) the terms of a collective bargaining agreement; 6) the work experience of past employees on the job; and 7) the current work experience of employees in similar jobs. While there was no written job description here, all colleagues in similar positions worked 60-80 hours per week and the structure of the position did not lend itself to regular, 40-hour weeks. Microsoft made an effort to find another job for Davis within the company, which it had an obligation to do, but it did not have a duty to guarantee him an alternative position.

Citation Davis v. Microsoft Corp., 37 P.3d 333 (Ct. App., Wash., 2002)

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