Samper v. Providence St. Vincent

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Disability Law
  • Date Filed: 04-11-2012
  • Case #: 10-35811
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge McKeown for the Court; Circuit Judge Tallman and Senior Circuit Judge Guy, Jr.
  • Full Text Opinion

Where a job requires an employee’s on-site presence to maintain other essential functions, like teamwork or face-to-face interactions with patients, regular attendance is an essential function of employment, and therefore cannot be exempted by a disability accommodation.

Monika Samper appealed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of her employer, Providence St. Vincent (“Providence”), on her reasonable accommodations claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act, wherein she requested an undetermined number of unplanned absences due to a debilitating health condition. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, finding that some jobs, like a nurse in a neo-natal intensive care unit, require the presence of the employee, and that the employee’s regular attendance is an essential function of employment. Even though Samper proved that she was disabled, that she suffered an adverse employment action because of her disability, and that she was qualified to perform the other essential functions of the job, her reasonable accommodations claim failed to prove that regular attendance is not an essential function of her job. Providence had listed attendance as an essential function in the written job description. Even beyond this written form, the Court recognized the necessity of requiring the presence of trained personnel in certain fields of employment. Samper’s reasonable accommodations claim also failed because it did not quantify the unplanned absences she sought, which would have allowed her to work or not work whenever she wanted. Such an accommodation would be unreasonable as a matter of law, because it would exempt her from an essential function of her employment, thereby defeating the reasonable accommodations claim. AFFIRMED.

Advanced Search