A flexible work schedule is not a reasonable accommodation if it will not allow the employee to perform the essential functions of her job, which can include regular and punctual attendance, according to the Tenth Circuit. Murphy v Samson Resources Co. (10th Cir. May 8, 2013). The court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the employer, holding that the employee was not “qualified” for her position due to her absences for migraine headaches.

The employee’s job description for her accounting assistant position stated that regular and punctual attendance was an essential function of the job. The employee did not dispute that regular and punctual attendance was an essential function but argued that she was nonetheless “qualified” under the ADA because a flexible schedule was a reasonable accommodation that would enable her to perform her job. The court rejected this argument because even with the flexible schedule, she was making mistakes in her work and failed to make up all the time she had missed. The court reiterated that an employee’s request to be relieved from an essential function is not a reasonable or even plausible accommodation.

The employee also argued that the Company should have granted her leave under its short term disability policy as a reasonable accommodation. In rejecting this argument, the court said the plaintiff had “failed to present evidence of the expected duration of her impairment.” It was “uncertain if or when Murphy would be able to return to work given the sporadic nature of her migraines,” the court added.