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

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).

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Recent decision about a positive drug test has a lot to say about the future of medical marijuana and employer drug testing


Richard Turner worked as a crane operator for Phillips 66. The company’s substance abuse policy allowed for random and post-accident drug testing for “Cannabinoids, Cocaine, Opiates, Phencyclidine (PCP) and Amphetamines,” and mandated termination for any positive test.

On April 24, 2017, Turner was selected for a random drug test, and provided a urine sample. Three days later he was involved in a workplace accident and was again tested.

The following day, Phillips 66 learned that Turner’s April 24 sample tested positive for amphetamines. As a result, the company fired him.

Monday, November 4, 2019

An employee’s disability is not a “get out of jail free” card for workplace misconduct


Does a medical leave of absence grant an employee a free pass for pre-leave misconduct discovered during the LOA? This question is squarely at the center of the court’s decision in Williams v. Graphic Packaging International (6th Cir. 10/31/19) [pdf].

Monday, September 23, 2019

No-fault attendance policies offer no cover when the ADA or FMLA are involved


An employee suffering from epilepsy, migraines, and heart condition asks (with a medical note) for two unpaid days off from work unpaid to treat symptoms related to her disabilities. Instead of granting the leave, the employer assigns the employee points under its no-fault attendance policy and fires her for exceeding the allowable number of attendance points. The EEOC has sued the employer, alleging disability discrimination.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

When alcohol is involved, the ADA distinguishes between “having a disability” and “disability-related misconduct”


Alcoholism is an ADA-protected disability. Yet, the ADA does not require that employers accommodate alcoholics by permitting them to drink, or otherwise be intoxicated, on the job.

Case in point? Dennis v. Fitzsimmons (D. Col. 9/5/19).

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Can an employer ask an employee to stop groaning in pain all the time if she refuses to seek medical treatment?


Last week I received the following email from Alison Green, who writes the entertaining and informative blog, Ask a Manager.

Hi Jon, 
I’m a huge fan of your work, and I wonder if you might be willing to weigh in with a legal perspective on a letter I’d like to print at Ask a Manager. If you’re up for it, I’d be delighted to print your thoughts, along with a link to your website and book (and anything else you’d like me to link to) in the Ask a Manager post where I tackle this letter. I’m not sure if this is something you do or not, but I’m hoping you might say yes!

My response: “Right back at’cha on the fandom. Happy to share my thoughts for your readers.” (When an email starts with, “I’m a huge fan,” it’s hard to say no.)

Here’s the question posed.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Does the ADA cover morbid obesity? Federal appellate court says maybe 🤷‍♂️


Jose Valtierra weighed 370 pounds at the time Medtronic terminated his employment in 2014 for falsifying job reports. Valtierra claimed that he had been denied an accommodation for his morbid obesity, which he alleged caused him to be unable to perform his job. Hence, the fake job reports.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals punted on the issue of whether "morbid obesity" is a disability covered by the ADA.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

EEOC settlement teaches lesson on extended leaves of absence as ADA accommodation


An employee tells you that he was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and needs a few weeks off for treatment, surgery, and recovery. Assume either you’re not an FMLA-covered employer or that the employee is not FMLA eligible.

Do you?