How a Vocational Expert Can Help Establish Liability in a Discrimination Case

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A vocational expert’s testimony, skill, and experience are often utilized to prove damages in personal injury, divorce, and wrongful termination cases case. A vocational expert can also be used to help establish liability. By conducting a job analysis, a vocational expert can help establish liability in a case where there was discrimination in the hiring process.

Reasonable Accommodation

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are required to make reasonable accommodations “to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individuals with a disability who is an applicant or employee.” A person who would be able to perform the essential duties of the job were it not for their disability may request reasonable accommodations from the employer. The employer is then required to consider accommodations that would not “impose an undue hardship” on the employer or company.

Essential Duties / Functions

Essential duties of a job are those that are vital to fulfill the objectives of the job. The employer cannot consider duties incidental to the job or the means for accomplishing the job, only whether the job can be performed. An individual is qualified for a position if, with or without reasonable accommodations, they can perform the essential duties of a job.

Vocational Expert’s Job Analysis

Ideally, employers will have detailed job descriptions outlining the “essential functions” of a job. A vocational expert can use the job description to perform a job analysis, which will be helpful in establishing prima facie evidence of employment discrimination. A vocational expert will have even more of an impact on determining liability in an instance where a job description is inaccurate, reporting marginal functions to be essential.

A vocational expert’s job analysis involves gathering, evaluating, and recording objective data about a job. It evaluates what an employee does, how the work is done, results of the work, the skills, knowledge, and abilities required to perform the work, and the context in which the work fits into the organizational structure.

The vocational expert can also visit the job site to witness the job being performed and interview supervisors and employees about the accuracy of existing job descriptions. Once the job analysis is completed and presented, the court will have an understanding of the actual essential duties of the job. This understanding will allow the vocational expert to make recommendations for reasonable accommodations and testify to the efforts of the employer to provide reasonable accommodations.


The vocational experts at Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. (OAS) have over forty years of experience documenting the income potential and employment capacity of underemployed, unemployed, and disabled individuals. Contact OAS at 800-292-1919 to discuss how we can help in your wrongful termination, ADA, or discrimination case.