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Temporary Employees Not Entitled to Accommodation under ADA

Kristen Punt worked for Kelly Services, a temporary staffing agency. She was assigned as a receptionist working 40 hours per week and being physically present was defined as an “essential function” of that position. During her tenure, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had to miss some time at work as part of her medical care. She emailed her manager at Kelly to say that she needed a week off immediately and would require more time later for future treatments. Specific details about the future treatment and dates were not supplied. The customer asked for a replacement because it “needed an employee that’s going to be able to show up and fulfill the needs of the position.” Kelly complied. The agency did offer her other positions but she declined.  Ms. Punt sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act for failure to accommodate.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld summary judgment against Ms. Punt. First, her request to miss one week of work as well as undefined future leave was not “plausibly reasonable on its face.” The court stated that employees must inform employers with the expected duration of the leave. More to the point, the court of appeals decided that temporary employees are unique and that reporting to work was even more critical for them. It was too burdensome to expect the client to fill the position with a “super-temporary employee.” The ADA was held not to require that level of burden.