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Resource Update: Mental Health Issues in the Workplace – A Global Perspective

The intentional crash of Germanwings flight 9525 by an apparently mentally ill pilot into the French Alps this March shocked and distressed not just the millions of people who fly each day, but also the millions of responsible employers who strive to provide safe workplaces for their employees. In "Mental Health Issues in the Workplace – A Global Perspective," FordHarrison partner Sarah Pierce Wimberly discusses the difficulties involved in monitoring employees' mental health while balancing the compelling, but competing, duties to provide a safe workplace and protect employee confidentiality. For multinational employers, these difficulties are compounded by differing laws in the jurisdictions in which they do business. The article compares the obligations imposed by U.S. law to those imposed by laws in the U.K. and Germany, incorporating insight from Ius Laboris member firms in those countries. The article was published by Corporate Counsel magazine and is available on the In Depth Analysis page of the FordHarrison website.

Wave of ADA Public Accommodation Lawsuits Continue to Spread, Hits Illinois

In recent weeks, we have seen a surge in Illinois of private plaintiff lawsuits filed under the public accommodation provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Public accommodation lawsuits have been common for nearly a decade in some states, such as California and Florida, but these cases have been filed with increasing frequency in Illinois and other states.

Employer Not Required by ADA to Permit Employee to Telecommute

Executive Summary: Reversing an earlier panel decision, the Sixth Circuit has held that an employee who was unable to regularly and consistently attend work was not a qualified individual with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because her excessive absences prevented her from performing the essential functions of her job. Accordingly, the employer was not required to permit her to telecommute because doing so would excuse her from performing one of the essential functions of her job and, thus, was not a reasonable accommodation. See EEOC v. Ford Motor Company, (April 10, 2015).

EEOC has defined "ability to interact with others" as a major life activity, making social anxiety disorder a disability under the ADA

An employee who was fired after asking to be reassigned to a role with less direct personal interaction as an accommodation for her social anxiety disorder has been allowed by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to take her case to a jury. Jacobs v. N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts, No. 13-2212 (March 12, 2015).

Is telecommuting a reasonable accommodation, or is it not?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Employers Can Decide That Physical Presence at the Workplace is an Essential Function

On April 10, 2015, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its long-awaited en banc decision in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Ford Motor Company following a vacated panel decision from April 2014 in which a divided panel had reversed a district court’s summary judgment award in Ford’s favor.

Sixth Circuit Holds Telecommuting Not a Reasonable Accommodation Where Regular and Predictable On-Site Job Attendance is an Essential Job Function

Courts have repeatedly recognized that “regular job attendance” is an essential function of most jobs that need not be altered in order to reasonably accommodate a disabled employee. This common sense notion, however, has come under increasing scrutiny given the technological advancements that have made telecommuting and other remote working arrangements routine in many workplaces.

THANKS, FORD! Hard-fought win against EEOC in ADA-telecommuting case is welcome news for all employers

Last Friday, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit found in favor of Ford Motor Company in a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The decision is a big win for Ford, and for all employers.

The ADA: A Far Cry From the ABCs (Education Update)

Qualified individuals, reasonable accommodations, undue hardship, fundamental alteration – these terms associated with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are a far cry from the simplicity of the ABCs, and cause much confusion for schools tasked with complying with the statute. But there can be no question that compliance with the ADA is the subject of increased interest to federal and state governmental agencies nationwide, and that more and more individuals are exercising their rights under the ADA, particularly when it comes to seeking reasonable accommodations.

Anxiety Over the ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is designed to protect people with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace. Under the ADA, an employer must provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee with a disability if the employee requests an accommodation. Employers should take note of a recent decision that includes a new class within the definition of disability. In Jacobs v. N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts, the court reversed the district court and found that social anxiety disorder is a protected disability under the ADA.