The Tenth Circuit said yes. Job functions that are rarely required may still be essential for purposes of the ADA, so long as the potential consequences of employing a person incapable of performing the function are sufficiently severe. Although the emergency training was rarely performed, it was essential; the PAs had daily contact with inmates, one PA had been attacked, and the training would better equip the PAs to handle “the risks and dangers” of the environment in which they worked. Moreover, the court said, the previous attack underlined the consequences of not requiring the certification. Because the PAs had daily contact with inmates, the training was an essential, if rarely performed, function.
Source: Hennagir v. Utah Dept of Corrections (10thCir 2009) U.S. App. LEXIS 20163.