Showing posts with label disability discrimination. Show all posts
Showing posts with label disability discrimination. Show all posts

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Pre-employment pregnancy testing?

I was tagged on Twitter to address this situation.

My friend did a drug test for a part time job for the local school district. When she got her results, she found out that the district also did a pregnancy test. Besides ethical issues, this seems like a legal red flag given she wasn't told this would be done.
The OP added that her friend's spouse (male) did the same screening for the same employer, but no pregnancy test.

If it looks illegal, and it smells illegal, then it's illegal. Let's examine why.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Lyfting independent contractor status

If I asked you to identify Lyft's business, how would you answer? 

"They're a transportation company," you'd say. There's no other correct answer … unless you ask Lyft. 

Lyft will tell you that it's a tech company, not a provider of transportation.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

A Q&A on service animals at work

The EEOC has sued Hobby Lobby, accusing the arts-and-crafts retailer of refusing to reasonably accommodate a cashier by declining her the use a service dog and ultimately firing her.

The agency shares the details in its press release:

According to the suit, the employee advised her manager that she needed to bring her fully trained service dog to work to assist her with symptoms caused by PTSD, anxiety and depression. The company's human resources representative met with the employee to discuss her request but concluded the dog would present a safety concern because a coworker or customer might be allergic to or trip over the dog, or the dog might break something. Even though Hobby Lobby allows customers to bring service dogs and other dogs to the store, managers were unwilling to allow the employee's service dog in the store to see whether there was an actual safety concern. Hobby Lobby ultimately terminated the employee when she could not work without her service dog.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Having a disability is NOT an excuse for mistreating others

I've written before about BrewDog (here and here), the multinational Scottish craft brewery accused by hundreds of former employees of systemic mistreatment through its sexist and misogynist work environment. The brewery's founder and CEO, James Watt, stands at the center of much of controversy and most point to him as the root cause of most of the allegation.

Earlier this week, Watt appeared as a guest on The Diary of CEO podcast. During the interview, Watt blamed his pattern of mistreatment of employees him possibly being autistic.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Jury awards $450,000 to employee fired over unwanted birthday party

Kevin Berling, a 10-month employee of Gravity Diagnostics, made a simple request of the manager of his office —"Please don't throw me a birthday party; I have an anxiety disorder."

What happened next spiraled into a lawsuit that lasted more than two and half years and ended late last month with a $450,000 verdict for the employee.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

If you want to get yourself into discrimination hot water, stereotype your protected-class employees

To cases recently settled by the EEOC illustrate the point that stereotypes of protected-class employees are a quick path an expensive lesson.

  • Ranew's Management Company agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a disability discrimination claim after it fired an employee based on a "lack of trust" instead of permitting her to return from a leave of absence resulting from severe depression.
  • American Freight Furniture and Mattress agreed to pay $5,000,000 to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit based on allegations that managers made hiring decisions based on bias and stereotypes, including that women would not "do as great a job at selling furniture as men," could not work in the warehouse because "women can’t lift," and that female employees would be " distraction" to their male coworkers. 

Thursday, February 17, 2022

An employer has disability discrimination problems if the interactive process isn’t interactive

You'd think an employer with the name Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities would know a thing or two about complying with workplace discrimination laws. 

You'd think.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Coronavirus Update 10-7-21: EEOC brings its first pandemic-related lawsuit over a denied WFH accommodation

The fact that an employer temporarily excused performance of one or more essential functions when it closed the workplace and enabled employees to telework for the purpose of protecting their safety from COVID-19, or otherwise chose to permit telework, does not mean that the employer permanently changed a job’s essential functions, that telework is always a feasible accommodation, or that it does not pose an undue hardship. These are fact-specific determinations.

EEOC's What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws

According to the EEOC, just because an employer previously offered remote work during the pandemic for some or all employees does not mean that remote work is an appropriate accommodation for any specific employee after it recalls employees to the physical workplace.

What does this look like in practice? A lawsuit the EEOC recently filed will test its limits.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Employment law lessons from “Ted Lasso” — Let’s talk about medical confidentiality

The penultimate episode of Season 2 of Ted Lasso ended with an absolute gut-punch of a cliffhanger.

(Spoiler Alert — Turn Back Now If You're Not Caught Up)

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Coronavirus Update 7–22–2021: How the ADA and FMLA apply to Covid long haulers

The risks associated with Covid-19 aren't limited to the 625,000 Americans this virus has killed or the 2.3 million hospitalizations. One of the greatest risks comes from the fact that nearly one-third of Covid-19 patients will develop long-haul symptoms that long outlast the actual infection, and further that nearly one-third of all Covid long haulers had asymptomatic Covid cases. These long-haul symptoms can include fatigue, respiratory problems, "brain fog," body aches and muscle pain, abdominal issues, and loss of smell and taste. They can be quite debilitating and last for months or longer.

If you have an employee experiencing one or more of these long-haul symptoms, what are your legal obligations to that employee under ADA and FMLA?

Monday, July 19, 2021

An adverse jury verdict is just a number on a piece of paper

Late last week, a federal jury tagged Walmart with a verdict totaling more than $125 million in a disability discrimination lawsuit the EEOC brought on behalf of an employee with Down syndrome.

The facts were not great for Walmart. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate

An employee suffers an injury that prevents her from operating a motor vehicle. With no means of transportation to travel to and from her workplace, the employee calls off work, believing that her absences were excused. They weren't, and the employer fires her for excessive absences.

She sues, claiming disability discrimination, in part because of the company's failure to accommodate her inability to drive.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Accidents will happen: “Not every mistake amounts to actionable employment discrimination”

Mistakes happen. Including in the context of employment decisions. But not every mistake amounts to actionable employment discrimination. That’s the lesson of this case, where Robyn Smith’s employer fired her after it wrongly concluded that she had been stealing from one of the company’s clients.

So starts the 6th Circuit’s opinion in Smith v. Towne Properties Asset Management Co.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Just being in a protected class is never enough to protect an employee’s job

When Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corporation terminated Mary Lou Stelter from her sales position, she claimed disability discrimination relating to a workplace back injury and her related two-month leave of absence.

WPS, on the other hand, argued that Stelter’s manager, Wendy Harings, expressed concerns about Stelter’s performance deficiencies and absenteeism four years before the back injury; thus, any negative marks after her injury were merely a continuation of her long history of on-the-job issues and not evidence of discriminatory animus.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Does the ADA protect employees who travel to areas that potentially expose them to coronavirus?

Coronavirus is 2020’s pandemic du jour. It’s a serious, and potentially deadly, respiratory virus that (likely) started in Wuhan, China, and has now made its way into the U.S. with five confirmed cases.

Suppose you fire an employee who you fear might have been exposed to the virus. She exhibits no symptoms, but because she had recently traveled to an area in which she could have been exposed, you think it’s better safe than sorry not to have her work for you anymore. She sues for disability discrimination, claiming that you “regarded her” as disabled. Does she win her case? The outcome might surprise you.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Dream on — lawsuit by Aerosmith drummer highlights the legal risk of "fitness for duty" exams

Joey Kramer, Aerosmith's founding and longtime drummer, is suing his band mates after they blocked him from joining them at upcoming high-profile events, including this weekend's honor as the 2020 MusiCares Person of the Year and its Lifetime Achievement Award at this weekend's Grammys.

Kramer claims that Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, and Brad Whitford are not allowing him back in the band following a temporary disability from minor injuries he suffered last year. According to TMZ, Kramer claims the band required him to audition to prove he was "able to play at an appropriate level" before he could regain his drummer role. He further claims that in this audition is unprecedented in the band's 50-year history, during which each of other members had to step away for various reasons.

This story got me thinking about an employer's rights when an employee seeks to return to work after a medically-related leave of absence. 

Monday, December 16, 2019

Court finds that the ADA does not protect employee’s dormant genetic condition

Sherryl Darby has the BRCA1 gene, otherwise known as the breast cancer gene, the best known gene associated with breast-cancer risk. Approximately two months after she started working as an administrative assistant at Childvine, an early childcare provider, Darby opted to have a double mastectomy to decrease her risk of developing breast cancer in the future. Two weeks later, Childvine fired her.

Despite the close-in-time link between Darby’s surgery and her termination, the district court dismissed her ADA lawsuit.

Monday, December 9, 2019

The ADA never requires an employer to create a position as a reasonable accommodation

Randona Johnson took a medical leave from his position as a process coach at a Ford assembly plant to deal with back pain, hypertension, and depression. After five months of leave, Ford moved Johnson to inactive status, with no active position at the plant. Two months later, Johnson reapplied for his old job and requested certain accommodations for his various disabilities. According to Ford, however, the assembly plant had no openings at that time, as was the case each time over the next several months Johnson reapplied. Ultimately, 15 months after Johnson first took medical leave, and eight months after he first re-applied, a position opened and Ford rehired him with his requested accommodations.

Johnson sued anyway, claiming in failing to rehire him earlier Ford unlawfully denied him a reasonable accommodation.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Does it violate the ADA to work an employee in excess of a work restriction?

Rita Morrissey is a licensed practical nurse who worked for 15 years for The Laurels of Coldwater, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center. In 2012, she injured her back outside of work, and submitted a note to her employer from her primary care physician limiting her to no more than 12 hours of work per shift. Coldwater refused the accommodation, telling Morrissey that it would not accommodate any medical condition that did not stem from a work-related injury.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

“Smoking gun” email revives employee’s disability discrimination lawsuit

Maryville Anesthesiologists fired Paula Babb, an experienced Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, because it thought she suffered from a visual impairment.

How do we know why it fired her? Because the day after Babb’s termination, one of her co-workers confirmed it in an email (written at the direction of one of the employer’s owners).