Category Archives: ADA

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Happy Thanksgiving and the Many Things for Which We Are Thankful

Before everyone gets out of the office to their various homes and families to celebrate the holiday, we wanted to review the year and count our blessings. Not only are we thankful that our families and colleagues in our Houston and Tampa offices weathered the storms safely, we are also thankful for the following legal … Continue Reading

Changing of the Leaves: EEOC Again Pushes for Additional Leave as ADA Accommodation

We have said it before — the EEOC believes that leave is a reasonable accommodation and automatic termination when FMLA leave runs out violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. Even though at least one federal court has made clear it disagrees, the EEOC continues to press the point and has recently filed a lawsuit against … Continue Reading

Honesty Is the Best Policy . . . Until It Isn’t – Employer Denied Summary Judgment After Distributing Letter About Former Employee’s Charge of Disability Discrimination

How much should you tell your employees about a pending charge of discrimination from a former employee? Should you let them know that the EEOC might contact them? Is complete honesty really the best policy? Maybe not, according to a federal district court in Connecticut that found an employer’s oversharing about a charge precluded summary … Continue Reading

Well, Well, Wellness: DC Court Strikes Down EEOC Rules on Corporate Wellness Programs

When is a financial incentive in an employee-sponsored wellness program so high that employees can’t afford not to participate—rendering the program no longer voluntary? Well (pun intended), the District Court for the District of Columbia believes that the EEOC doesn’t know (yet). In the last 15 years or so, many employers started wellness programs to promote … Continue Reading

DOH! Nuclear Safety Regs Trump ADA Accommodation Request (Thankfully)

In a battle between a mentally ill employee seeking accommodation for his job at a nuclear plant and federal nuclear safety codes—-which wins out? The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ended up going with safety codes. Looking Out for an Erratic Employee Mr. Daryle McNelis was an armed security guard at Pennsylvania Power and Light’s (PPL) … Continue Reading

You Might Feel a Small Stick: EEOC Sues on Failure to Accommodate Phlebotomist

If an employer provides a temporary reassignment to accommodate an employee’s disability/pregnancy restrictions, does it have to return her to that assignment after her maternity leave? The EEOC seems to think so. In Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Dependable Health Services, the EEOC alleged that Dependable Health Services (DHS) discriminated against Sheena Berry, who has … Continue Reading

“But My Doctor Said It Was Cool”: Florida’s New Medical Marijuana Bill and Employment Considerations

Last month, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a medical marijuana use bill. This was the result of the overwhelming vote (71 percent) in favor of amending the Florida Constitution to allow medical marijuana use as prescribed by a licensed Florida physician. Florida now joins 27 other states that have legalized at least some … Continue Reading

EEOC To Employers: Requiring Employees to Return to Work with “No Restrictions” Could Get You Sued

Before the Americans with Disabilities Act (and there was a time before the ADA), it was not uncommon to require employees to have a doctor’s note returning them to work “with no restrictions.” That won’t work in today’s ADA world, and the EEOC’s recent complaint against M&T Bank Corporation in New York provides a clear reminder. … Continue Reading

Are Transgender Employees Disabled under the ADA?

There has been a lot of discussion over the last year about whether transgender employees are protected against sex discrimination under Title VII—but what about against disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? Maybe. In Kate Lynn Blatt v. Cabela’s Retails, Inc., a federal district court in Pennsylvania has ruled that a transgender … Continue Reading

From the Tinfoil Hat Files: Plaintiff Sleeping on the Job Claims Sensitivity to Electromagnetic Voltage

The 7th Circuit, in a short opinion issued April 6, zapped a plaintiff’s claim that he was terminated in violation of the ADA based on his condition of being overexposed to electromagnetic voltage at his job. Mr. Hirmiz, a desk clerk at a Travelodge hotel, was caught on video sleeping during a fight that broke out … Continue Reading

Needle and the Damage Done: Pharmacist’s Phobia Not Enough for ADA Claim

Can fear of an aspect of your job constitute a disability under the ADA?  Depends on how essential the function is. In Stevens v. Rite Aid Corp, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals looked at the case of a Rite Aid pharmacist, Christopher Stevens, who suffered from trypanophobia—-fear of needles. Factual Background. In 2011, Rite Aid … Continue Reading

Power of the Subpoena: Will Nominee Gorsuch Limit Scope of EEOC Reach?

Just how broad is the EEOC’s subpoena power and are we likely to get some guidance soon? We’ve said before that the McLane v. EEOC case (which is about the EEOC’s subpoena power and is currently before the Supreme Court) is uncertain given President Trump’s election. Since then, we have had two developments: first, President … Continue Reading

Anxiety, Absenteeism, and the ADA

As accommodating and flexible as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compels employers to be, the harsh reality is that there are some jobs that a person with certain disabilities simply cannot do. When an employee suffering from a disability can no longer perform the essential functions of her job with or without a reasonable … Continue Reading

Apply Here! (with Everyone Else): ADA Does Not Mandate Noncompetitive Reassignment

When you can’t reasonably accommodate a disabled employee in the current position, do you have to give the employee a vacant position or can you follow your usual, competitive process? In EEOC v. St. Joseph’s Hospital, Inc., the Eleventh Circuit found that employers need only provide meaningful equal employment opportunities to comply with the Americans … Continue Reading

Sign of the Times: EEOC Settles Case of Employer Failing to Provide ASL Interpreter for Job Interview

A deaf person applies for a job and the employee who takes applications asks you “how can a deaf person do this job?” What if an essential function of the job requires interaction with the public or the ability to communicate with team members or to respond to an audible safety warning? Be careful—take a … Continue Reading

Bend Don’t Break: The EEOC Says Inflexible Attendance Policies Violate the ADA

In managing employee attendance, be careful about policies that suggest automatic termination after a certain number of absences as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) believes such policies violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC has filed suit against Wayne Farms, a poultry plant, alleging the company’s attendance policy, which allegedly required the … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit Confirms That The ADA Does Not Require Employers To Create Permanent Light Duty Positions For Disabled Employees

Giving an employee temporary light duty does not mean you have to create a permanent light duty position as a reasonable accommodation, at least according to a recent Sixth Circuit case. Here are the facts the Court considered in Meade v. AT&T Corporation: Stephen Meade worked for AT&T as a facility technician, installing and maintaining … Continue Reading

New Guidance From the EEOC on Leave as Reasonable Accommodation Doesn’t Give Employers Much Guidance

The EEOC’s latest guidance on leave and the ADA makes clear that the Commission isn’t backing down from its position that employers must consider leave as a reasonable accommodation, a topic we’ve discussed in prior blog posts. But with a relatively undefined standard, how do employers know where the line is between reasonably accommodating an … Continue Reading

Never Forever: Indefinite Extension of Light-Duty Not Required Under ADA (Per Eleventh Circuit)

Employers evaluating ADA reasonable accommodation requests often must decide whether they have to provide extended light duty for an injured employee. In Frazier-White v. Gee, the Eleventh Circuit recently provided helpful guidance, holding that an indefinite extension of light-duty status was an unreasonable accommodation as a matter of law. Plaintiff Frazier-White was a community service … Continue Reading

Dollar General’s Firing of Employee on Leave Did Not Violate the ADA or FMLA

A recent Eleventh Circuit case under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) approved Dollar General’s termination of an employee on leave. The timing of Dollar General’s decision could not have been worse (at least from a lawyer’s perspective)—the employee was still on leave for cancer treatment when … Continue Reading

Remember the ADA: Workers’ Comp Claims Count Too!

Regardless of your state’s workers’ compensation laws, covered employers must always keep the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in mind when wrestling with whether to ask job applicants about prior workers’ compensation claims. For example, last month, the Tennessee Supreme Court unanimously held that no cause of action existed for a job applicant under the … Continue Reading

Happy Birthday ADA and How We Can Celebrate

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is 25 years old this year. I was a newly minted lawyer when this law emerged in 1990 and as I have grown, so have the number of disability discrimination lawsuits. In celebration of the ADA’s birthday, I thought we could celebrate with a quick review of an employer’s … Continue Reading

What’s Up With Wellness Programs Anyway?

My personal interest in employer wellness programs increased a few months ago when my wife and I were offered significant health insurance premium savings through her employer by participating in such a program. We completed health risk assessments, answered questions about tobacco use, and had various measurements taken. We now have our own web pages … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Vacates Young v. UPS Finding that UPS Failed to Accommodate Lifting Restrictions of Pregnant Worker

The  U.S. Supreme Court revived Peggy Young’s pregnancy discrimination claim against UPS by vacating a Fourth Circuit decision today by a 6-3 vote. Young worked as an air driver for UPS, which required her to lift up to 70 pounds.  After she became pregnant, Young’s doctor determined that she should not lift more than 20 … Continue Reading
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