Archives: ADA

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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in Severson v. Heartland Woodcraft, the Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the employer in its unpublished opinion in Golden v. Indianapolis Housing Agency, No. 17-1359 (7th Cir. Oct. 17, 2017), reiterating that “[a]n employee who needs long-term medical leave…is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

High School Teacher is Determined to not be Disabled After She Accepts Another Teaching Position

Sharon Walker (“Walker”), a high school business teacher, brought suit against the Pulaski County Special School District (“PCSSD”) claiming that she had been discriminated against and retaliated against because of her disability in violation of the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). PCSSD filed a motion for summary judgment, and on May 1, 2017, it was … Continue Reading

When Is Reassignment to an Intermittent Position Required as an ADA Accommodation?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) generally requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to disabled employees so that they can perform the essential duties of their jobs. This is not news. But what if no feasible accommodation can be identified in an employee’s existing position? Employers are often uncertain about whether they must offer reassignment to … Continue Reading

Restraining Unruly Children as an Essential Job Element: Expected in Secondary Schools but Not at a Youth Detention Center? A Cautionary Tale in the ADA Reasonable Accommodation Arena

In a recent blog post, I discussed the fact that under the reasonable accommodation provisions of the ADA, employers generally are not required to provide their employees with a stress-free work environment or one that possesses a “just right” amount of stress, which I referred to as a Goldilocks work environment (Read More). But what … Continue Reading

Businesses Face Conflicting State and Federal Accessibility Requirements

Many states and localities have their own distinct accessibility laws and regulations for businesses. Often these are not analogous to the ADA.  For instance, businesses operating in New York must use the disability access symbol designated by the state, but the U.S. Access Board (which sets standards of accessibility for federal agencies and drafts the … Continue Reading

Oklahoma Case Serves as Reminder that Pregnancy Alone, Without More, Is Not an ADA Disability

A former employee’s claim that she was pregnant and subject to lifting restrictions failed to allege a valid claim under the Americas with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. LaCount v. South Lewis SH OPCO, LLC, Case No. 16-CV-0545-CVE-TLW (N.D. Okla. May 5, 2017). When the … Continue Reading

What Should I Tell Employees on Leave About Their FMLA Usage? Everything!

When it comes to FMLA leave administration, “don’t sweat the details” is rarely a wise axiom.  Details matter.  A lot.  A recent decision by an Illinois federal court reinforces that lesson.  In March 2015, Amanda Dusik contacted her employer, Lutheran Child and Family Services (LCFS), to request time off for knee surgery.  She explained that, … Continue Reading

EEOC and Orion Energy Systems, Inc. Settle Wellness Case

On April 5, 2017 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it had reached a settlement with Orion Energy Systems, Inc. (Orion) relating to the EEOC’s claims that Orion’s wellness program violated the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) because participation was involuntary, and that Orion retaliated against an employee who objected to the program. … Continue Reading

House Legislation Seeks to Harmonize Wellness Programs with ADA and GINA

On March 2, 2017, in an attempt to clear the murky waters surrounding wellness programs, Rep. Virginia Foxx, chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, introduced the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act (the “Act’) (H.R. 1313). In an effort to protect wellness plans, the Act reaffirms existing law which permits employee wellness … Continue Reading

Court Labels Employer Post-Offer Medical Examination “Textbook Case” of ADA Regarded As Liability

When used lawfully, post-offer, pre-employment medical examinations can be a powerful tool. But a recent federal district court case demonstrates the importance of carefully implementing such programs.  In EEOC v. M.G.H. Family Health Center, Cause No. 1:15-CV-952 (E.D. Mich. 1/27/2017 ), the employer hired an employee and asked her to participate in a medical examination.  Although … Continue Reading

Breaks and Flexible Hours Not a Reasonable ADA Accommodation for Frequently Absent Employee, Court Holds

Employers can easily feel overwhelmed when it comes to enforcing employee attendance standards while providing reasonable accommodation to employees with chronic health conditions. Increasingly, however, court decisions such as Williams v. AT&T Mobility Services LLC are providing much-needed guidance regarding the scope of an employer’s duty to accommodate. The Williams case illustrates how carefully-designed policies, frequent communication, … Continue Reading

Employer Comes Up Smelling Like Roses in Reasonable Accommodation Case: Court Reminds Employee That She Can’t Always Get What She Wants

An employer’s failure to provide a fragrance-free work environment does not equate to a failure to provide a reasonable accommodation or an adverse action against an employee, according to the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Alanis v. Metra.   In fact, this case reiterates that employers are not required to provide every accommodation requested … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Says “Last Call” for Employee Terminated After Caught Drinking While on FMLA “Bed Rest”

On January 31, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit joined the Seventh, Eighth and Tenth Circuits in holding that an employer’s honest belief that its employee was misusing FMLA leave is enough to defeat an FMLA retaliation claim. The court’s opinion in Capps v. Mondelez Global, LLC also serves as … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Nominee Has Put “Reasonable” into Reasonable Accommodation Obligations

In case your news and twitter accounts are down, and you otherwise have not heard the news…   President Trump has nominated Judge Gorsuch from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to fill Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacant Supreme Court seat.  There are surely countless articles about his nomination hitting the airwaves even as … Continue Reading
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