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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.

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

An employee fired after asking to be reassigned to a role with less direct personal interaction as an accommodation for her “social anxiety disorder” is being allowed by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to take her case to a jury. Jacobs v. N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts, 4th Circ., No. 13-2212, March 12, 2015.

Supervisor’s alleged remark regarding sick child precludes dismissal of ADA associational claim.

To establish a claim of “associational discrimination” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a plaintiff must demonstrate that she was discriminated against by her employer because of her relationship with a disabled person.

Employee’s Failure to Participate in Interactive Process Dooms ADA Claim

A diabetic employee who quit her job in response to her employer’s rejection of her suggested “reasonable accommodation” cannot support claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, because she failed to participate in the interactive process in good faith. EEOC v. Kohl’s Dep’t Stores, Inc., No. 14-1268 (December 19, 2014).

Fifth Circuit Adopts Standard in Disability Cases That Will Make it Harder for Employers to Obtain Summary Judgment

In Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. LHC Group Inc., the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals evaluated a trial court’s grant of summary judgment to an employer on an employee’s disability discrimination claims. In reaching its decision on the disability discrimination claim related to the employee’s discharge, the Fifth Circuit adopted a prima facie case formulation that will likely make it more difficult for employers to obtain summary judgment in disability discrimination cases involving termination.

Employee cannot claim lack of accommodation after quitting her job during the interactive process.

A diabetic employee who quit her job in response to the employer’s rejection of her suggested “reasonable accommodation” cannot support claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), because she failed to participate in the interactive process in good faith, according to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. EEOC v. Kohl’s Dep’t Stores, Inc., 1st Cir., No. 14-1268, December 19 2014.

Company’s work-from-home policy did not replace essential function of regular, predictable attendance.

A policy allowing an individual to work from home does not vitiate the fact that punctuality and predictable attendance are essential functions of a position. According to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, an employee’s ongoing tardiness – although numerous modifications had been made to her schedule and workload to allow flexibility in light of the individual’s multiple sclerosis (MS) – supported the employer’s argument that the employee was not “qualified” for the job, and led to summary judgment in the employer’s favor. Taylor-Novotny v. Health Alliance Medical Plans, Inc. 7th Cir., No. 13-3652, November 26, 2014.

Worker Failed to Show Pretext Following Contract Nonrenewal

The district court properly dismissed a former employee’s retaliation claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because she failed to prove that the employer’s performance-based reasons for her termination were a pretext for discrimination, the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. Collazo-Rosado v. University of Puerto Rico, No. 13-1641 (September 2, 2014).

Jerk Isn't Disabled: However, Can They be Lawfully Terminated

Myra Creighton’s article “Jerk Isn’t Disabled: However, Can They be Lawfully Terminated?” was featured in Legal and Compliance Excellence Magazine on December 9, 2014.

Zero Tolerance for Marijuana Use by Employees: A Prescription for Litigation?

Executive Summary: The dramatic inconsistency between federal and state law with regard to the use of marijuana may mean that employers with zero tolerance policies for marijuana use will face an increasing likelihood of litigation over the termination of employees who violate such policies.