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Total Articles: 17

Third Circuit Affirms Judgment in Favor of Employer in ADA Action, Finding that Compliance with NRC Regulations Justified Employee's Termination

Executive Summary: Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in McNelis v. Pennsylvania Power & Light Company affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the employer in a lawsuit alleging disability discrimination under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), finding the employer properly terminated a security guard at a nuclear plant after he was declared “unfit for duty” pursuant to Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulations and lost his security clearance.

1.6M EEOC Settlement Highlights Dangers of Making Assumptions About Employees’ Use of Medications

The EEOC entered into a Consent Decree on November 15, 2016, settling a case alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act for $1.6 million. The EEOC claimed that the employer took adverse actions against applicants and employees with actual or perceived disabilities on the basis that the employer believed the individuals posed safety threats. However, according to EEOC, those actions were taken without actually assessing the individual’s ability to perform the required tasks. One of the plaintiffs, for example, was not hired after the employer learned that she took medication for a traumatic brain injury. Click here to read the full article.

Employer’s Honest Belief That Employee Could Not Perform Job Due to Use of Opioid Medications Did Not Constitute Disability Discrimination

An employer’s decision to bypass an employee for a position based on the employee’s use of opioids was not enough to prove the employee’s disability discrimination claim, according to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Ferrari v. Ford Motor Company, Case No. 15-1479 (6th Cir. June 23, 2016). The Court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the employer on the employee’s disability discrimination claims, as well as his Family and Medical Leave Act retaliation claim.

Failure to Hire DOT Driver After Positive Drug Test Result Leads To ADA Claim

A South Carolina company that hauls gasoline, diesel fuel and ethanol throughout the country will face an Americans with Disabilities Act suit brought by a rejected DOT driver applicant with a sleep disorder for which he was prescribed an amphetamine (Dexedrine), the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond has decided, reversing a lower’s court’s dismissal of John Lisotto’s lawsuit. Lisotto v. New Prime, Inc., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 8011 (4th Cir., No. 15-1273, decided May 3, 2016) (not officially reported).

Employee Terminated Upon Return to Work After Alcohol Treatment Could Proceed With Claims Against Employer

An employee terminated immediately upon his return from medical leave for alcohol rehabilitation presented sufficient evidence of discrimination under the Family and Medical Leave Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and Ohio state law to present his case to a jury, according to a federal court in Ohio. The employer claimed that the employee had been terminated for misappropriating company goods, but e-mail exchanges between several supervisors discussing Plaintiff’s alcoholism, as well as the timing of his termination, could show pretext. Lankford v. Reladyne, LLC, 32 AD Cases 959 (S.D. Ohio Nov. 19, 2015).

Do I or Don't I?—Alcoholism and Accommodations in the Workplace

Any college football fan can attest that this has been quite the year for upsets. As interesting as the on-field action has been, we have seen increasing media attention and fan commentary focused on the action off the field—especially on the activities of college football coaches and players.

Deaf Employee Who Was Fired For Positive Drug Test Result Could Not Show Disability Discrimination

A deaf employee who tested positive for hydrocodone – but could not produce a prescription for the drug – was not discriminated against due to his disability when his employer fired him. Phillips v. PPG Industries, Inc., Case No. 5:14-CV-1274 (N.D. Alabama Nov. 24, 2015).

EEOC Sues Employer Who Allegedly Refused to Hire Methadone User

In the last three years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed numerous lawsuits against employers who take adverse actions against applicants and employees who use prescription medications. In accordance with that trend, EEOC filed suit on November 3, 2015 against an employer who purportedly refused to hire a recovering drug addict using methadone, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). EEOC v. Randstad, US, LP, 1:15-cv-03354 (D. MD. Nov. 3, 2015).

Death Threats Lead To Employer's ADA Victory

It is rare that the most employee-friendly of all federal appellate courts cites “common sense” in support of one of its decisions. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently did just that, however, dismissing a disability discrimination claim filed by an employee who was fired for making death threats against company managers. In Mayo v. PCC Structurals, Inc., the Court ruled that the worker was not a “qualified individual with a disability,” and therefore could not sustain an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit.

Alcoholism and the ADA: The DOs and DON’Ts of Alcohol Testing in the Workplace

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA) considers alcoholism to be a “disability.” Individuals who suffer from alcoholism are entitled to the protections of the ADA just as those with significant mental illnesses or those confined to wheelchairs are. Thus, employers should be aware of certain legal issues, concerns, and prohibitions when questioning job applicants or employees about alcohol intake or when conducting alcohol testing.

Death Threats Against Co-Workers Defeat Employee Disability Discrimination Claim, Federal Court Rules

A depressed employee who was fired for threatening to kill his co-workers was not a qualified individual entitled to protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as the employee could not perform essential job functions, with or without an accommodation, a federal appeals court in San Francisco has ruled, affirming judgment in favor of the employer. Mayo v. PCC Structurals, Inc., No. 13-35643 (9th Cir. July 28, 2015). The Ninth Circuit has jurisdiction over Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

Death Threats against Co-Workers Defeat Employee Disability Discrimination Claim, Federal Court Rules

A depressed employee who was fired for threatening to kill his co-workers was not a qualified individual entitled to protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as the employee could not perform essential job functions, with or without an accommodation, a federal appeals court in San Francisco has ruled, affirming judgment in favor of the employer. Mayo v. PCC Structurals, Inc., No. 13-35643 (9th Cir. July 28, 2015). The Ninth Circuit has jurisdiction over Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

Do multiple death threats from a depressed employee make him ineligible for protection under disability laws? The Ninth Circuit says Yes.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has determined that an employee’s reaction to stress that included threats to kill co-workers – made in “chilling detail and on multiple occasions” – meant that the individual could not perform an essential function of his job and, therefore, was not a “qualified individual” for protection under disability discrimination law. Mayo v. PCC Structurals, Inc., 9th Cir., No. 13-35643, July 28, 2015.

Police Officer Fired for Crashing Cruiser While Drunk – Is He Protected by Disability Laws?

An Oregon police officer was arrested in January 2011 after crashing an unmarked police car into a ditch while off duty. The officer refused to submit to a breathalyzer or field sobriety test, but later pled guilty to driving under the influence. The arresting officer said the intoxicated officer was one of the ten most intoxicated people he had ever arrested. He was fired from the police force and is now suing, claiming he is an alcoholic and his termination amounts to disability discrimination.

Operating room nurse prohibited from working after drug rehab cannot support ADA failure to hire claim.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in a situation involving safety issues, a federal district court in Connecticut determined that an operating room nurse was not qualified for protection under the ADA because he was weeks away from the end of a year-long prohibition - imposed during drug rehab - against working in an operating room or around narcotics. Talmadge v. Stamford Hosp., D.Conn, No. 3:11-cv-01239, May 31, 2013. The more difficult issue, which received little attention from the court, was whether the nurse’s unsuccessful subsequent communications regarding employment after completion of the prohibition term could support an ADA claim.

Employee’s Threatening Behavior May Justify Mandatory Medical Examination

When is it appropriate to require an employee to complete a medical examination? This question presents a common challenge for employers. A federal court of appeals recently issued a decision that helps clarify an employer’s rights to seek a medical opinion when it is concerned about workplace safety. In Owusu-Ansah v. Coca-Cola Company, the Eleventh Circuit found that an employee’s threatening comments and behavior during a meeting with a supervisor were legitimate reasons to mandate that the employee pass a fitness-for-duty examination before returning to work.

Ninth Circuit Holds Medical Marijuana Use Not Protected Under the ADA

On May 21, 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that because the use of medical marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not protect against discrimination on the basis of medical marijuana use, even if that use is in accordance with state law explicitly authorizing such use. James v. City of Costa Mesa, No. 10-55769, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (May 21, 2012).