Archives: ADA

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Overtime Can Be An Essential Job Function

A recent decision from the District Court for the District of Nebraska serves as a reminder that overtime can be an essential job function. See McNeil v. Union Pac. R.R._ 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85250.  On May 21, 2018, Union Pacific Railroad Company’s (“Union Pacific”) motion for summary judgment was granted and the Court determined … Continue Reading

District Courts in the Seventh Circuit Begin to Clarify Landmark Severson Decision

As we have previously reported, on September 20, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a significant ruling for employers in Severson v. Heartland Woodcraft, Inc., 872 F.3d 476 (7th Cir. 2017), when it held that an multi-month, non-FMLA leave of absence is not a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with … Continue Reading

What Am I Doing Wrong?? Common FMLA Mistakes.

“What did I do wrong?” and “Am I doing this correctly?” are frequent questions from clients regarding FMLA administration. This is the fifteenth in a series highlighting some of the more common mistakes employers can inadvertently make regarding FMLA administration. Not properly communicating with an employee who is about to exhaust the 12 week leave … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Declines Review of ADA Leave Obligations

Sometimes the actions a court doesn’t take can have a very big impact. The Supreme Court’s April 2, 2018 decision not to review a recent Seventh Circuit ruling is just one of the cases. In Severson v. Heartland Woodcraft, Inc., a widely-publicized decision relating to the availability of extended leave as a reasonable accommodation under … Continue Reading

FMLA And ADA Claims Put To Bed Where Employer Did Not Know Employee Had Sleep Apnea At The Time Her Employment Was Terminated.

Sometimes what you don’t know can help you. In Guzman v. Brown County, a 911 Dispatcher who was fired after being late repeatedly had her FMLA interference and retaliation claims sent to dreamland by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The Appeals court held that the moribund claim should stay that way because the Dispatcher … Continue Reading

New York Federal Court Finds Alcoholism Is “Impairment,” Not Necessarily A Disability, Under the ADA

It seems axiomatic that a disability discrimination claim requires the plaintiff to suffer from a disability.  In Johnson v. N.Y. State Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Servs., No. 16-cv-9769 (RJS) (S.D.N.Y., March 13, 2018), a judge in the Southern District of New York dismissed a pro se plaintiff’s complaint for failure to allege that … Continue Reading

Donations Not Accepted – ADA Does Not Require Continued Use of Leave Donation Program

Many employers have programs allowing employees to donate their own time off to another employee with serious medical or family issues.  A dilemma often faced by employers with these policies is whether continued use of such donated time means the employee is not performing the essential function of attendance.  On the one hand, the employee … Continue Reading

House Bill Would Limit Drive-by Lawsuits by Amending Title III of Americans with Disabilities Act

The House of Representatives has passed the “ADA Education and Reform Act” (HR 620) with an 85-percent vote in favor of passage (including 12 Democrats).  Prior to filing a lawsuit under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the bill requires potential plaintiffs to provide businesses with both notice of architectural barriers as well … Continue Reading

The Fate of the EEOC’s Wellness Regulations is Still Uncertain

In October 2016, AARP sued the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) under the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”) arguing that there was no explanation for the shift in the EEOC’s position relating to what makes participation in a wellness program “voluntary”.  Originally, the EEOC argued that in order for a wellness program to be “voluntary,” employers could not condition the … Continue Reading

Alabama Court Decides an Individual with a Partially Amputated Foot is not Disabled Under the ADA

The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) made a number of significant changes to the definition of “disability.” Much of the change had to do with making it easier for an individual to establish that he or she has a disability within the meaning of the statute.  As a result employers have been accepting many … Continue Reading

Obesity Discrimination Claims Allowed to Proceed Under California Law

Is obesity a disability under California law? Are a supervisor’s alleged “fat remarks” sufficient evidence of disability discrimination?  On December 21, 2017, a California Appellate Court published an extensive decision regarding obesity as a disability under California law and issued further guidance on both counts. Ketryn Cornell was an obese woman (5’5”, 350 pounds) who … Continue Reading

Extending Leave Was Not A Reasonable Accommodation Under The ADA Where There Was A Lack Of “Certainty” About Return To Work Date

While employers generally accept that they cannot apply a maximum leave period after which employees are automatically terminated, they continue to struggle with how much leave must be provided as a form of accommodation under the ADA.  There is little dispute that leave for an indefinite period where the employee has a long term chronic … Continue Reading

Prior Entitlement to FMLA Leave Is Not A Free Ticket To Miss Work For Non-FMLA Covered Reasons

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania recently upheld an employer’s decision to terminate an employee under its policy against excessive absenteeism, in spite of the fact that the former employee had previously taken leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), because the absences at issue were not related to … Continue Reading

Seventh Circuit Holds that the ADA Is Still Not a Leave Statute

On October 17, 2017, on the heels of its landmark decision in Severson v. Heartland Woodcraft, the Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the employer in its unpublished opinion in Golden v. Indianapolis Housing Agency, No. 17-1359 (7th Cir. Oct. 17, 2017), reiterating that “[a]n employee who needs long-term medical leave…is not a ‘qualified … Continue Reading

New Mexico Court Rules Employee Is Entitled To Nationwide Discovery in FMLA Case

On October 10, 2017, Judge Ritter issued the Memorandum Opinion and Order which granted a former employee’s Motion to Compel and held that the former employee was entitled to information from the company’s nationwide offices relating to other employees fired under the company’s 100% healed policy and other FMLA or ADA complaints. Matthew Donlin (“Donlin”) worked as a general manager … Continue Reading

Seventh Circuit Clarifies ADA is Not a Leave Statute

On September 20, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a significant opinion for employers in Severson v. Heartland Woodcraft, Inc., No. 15-3754 (7th Cir. Sept. 20, 2017), holding that “[t]he ADA is an antidiscrimination statute, not a medical-leave entitlement.”  The Seventh Circuit joins the Tenth Circuit in rejecting the EEOC’s … Continue Reading

Leaving Defenses On The Table In Drafting Employee Handbooks And Posting Notices

While off-the-shelf employee handbooks can be cost-efficient in the short-term, sometimes they leave important employer defenses on the table.  This is particularly true for state-specific defenses.  For example, while most Michigan employers know it is best to include a reporting procedure for harassment in their employee handbook, many do not know that Michigan’s Persons with … Continue Reading

ADA Compliance Challenges: Navigating the Over-accommodation Conundrum

Make no mistake about it: ADA compliance can be challenging.  This is especially true when it comes to providing reasonable accommodation.  Not uncommonly, managers wanting to do the right thing actually provide more than the law requires.  Although well-intentioned, this practice often leads to conflict if more generous accommodations are later scaled back. Thankfully, a recent … Continue Reading

Who’s Responsible for Providing Disability-Related Workplace Accommodations to Temporary Employees?

Many businesses use temporary workers placed by staffing agencies. But who is responsible when a temporary worker requests a disability accommodation?  The staffing agency and the business could both be responsible if they are acting as “joint employers” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Staffing agencies commonly “employ” temporary workers: hire the workers, pay wages, provide any benefits, … Continue Reading
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