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

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?

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A handy FAQ for service animals in the workplace

A local Subway recently earned itself some bad publicity when an employee denied access to a customer with a service dog.

While this story involved a customer, and not an employee, it did get me thinking about employee service dogs at work.

I created this handy FAQ on service dogs at work for your reference.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Rob Mendez won the Jimmy V Award at last night’s ESPYS, and it might be the most inspiring thing you’ve ever seen

Rob Mendez coaches the JV football team at Prospect High School in Saratoga, California. He’s also lived his entire life with no arms and no legs. He was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, an extremely rare genetic disorder that prevented their embryonic formation. You can read Rob’s entire (and entirely) compelling story at this ESPN feature story, or watch it in this Jon Hamm-narrated featurette.

Last night, at ESPN’s annual sports awards, the network honored Rob Mendez with its Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.

As compelling and inspiring as he and his story are, so was his acceptance speech last night.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Why are employers testing job applicants for prescription medications?

During a pre-employment medical examination and drug screen, an applicant tests positive for Alprazolam, the generic form of Xanax (a medication commonly prescribed for anxiety), a fact she had already disclosed during the examination. The doctor performing the medical exam and reviewing the drug screen concludes that the applicant is medically acceptable for work as an intake specialist at an inpatient mental health facility. The employer, however, has other ideas. It withdraws the job offer without providing the applicant any opportunity to discuss the results.

The applicant sues, claiming disability discrimination.

Who wins?

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Proposed law wants to convert “anti-vaxxer” into a protected class

With a couple of important exceptions, an employer can require that employees be up to date on their vaccinations.

The exceptions?

     1/ An employee with an ADA disability that prevents him or her from receiving a vaccine may be entitled to an exemption from a mandatory vaccination requirement as a reasonable accommodation.

     2/ An employee with a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance that prevents him or her from receiving a vaccine may also be entitled to an exemption from a mandatory vaccination requirement as a reasonable accommodation.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

This disability discrimination lawsuit was no party

Party City has agreed with the EEOC to pay $155,000 to settle an ADA lawsuit the agency filed on behalf of a rejected job applicant on the autism spectrum and suffering from severe anxiety.

According to the lawsuit, the individual had been receiving services from Easter Seals of New Hampshire to build up her self-confidence, including working and applying for a job. These services included a job coach.