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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.

Biggest Loser Contests at Work? Only If They Pass Muster With the EEOC

We are again running a Biggest Loser Contest among our 31 offices and will award prizes, beginning at $1,000, to individuals who lose the most weight.

Wal-mart, EEOC reach accord in drug test accommodation lawsuit

Laura Jones was offered a sales job at the Wal-Mart store in Cockeysville, Maryland, and was told that she would have to take a drug test.

Disability Access Litigation on the Rise

In an article published recently in The Wall Street Journal (“Disability Lawsuits Against Small Businesses Soar,” October 15, 2014), staff writer Angus Loten reported that accessibility lawsuits brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against public accommodations increased by nearly 55 percent in the first six months of 2014 as compared to the number of filings in the same period in 2013. This increase follows a reported 9 percent increase in disability access lawsuits from 2012 to 2013. The article also reported that many of the lawsuits were brought in California, New York, and Florida.

BREAKING: EEOC seeks court order to halt Honeywell’s biometric testing

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a petition yesterday in federal court in Minnesota to stop Honeywell International, Inc., from requiring that employees (and spouses, if the employees have family health insurance coverage) either get biometric testing, or face the loss of employer contributions to Health Savings Accounts and incur other charges.

Employer must consider job restructuring if such restructuring would accommodate disabled employee without undue hardship.

Job restructuring is one of the accommodations that an employer must consider under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its regulations. Recently, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that if a minor adjustment to the work duties of a few other nursing home employees would have enabled the home’s hairdresser to perform the duty of pushing her customers’ wheelchairs to hairdressing appointments despite her disability, the nursing home’s refusal to consider making that adjustment was unlawful. Kaufmann v. Petersen Health Care VII, LLC, 7th Cir., 2014, No. 13-3661 (October 16, 2014).

Sugar Bear Unleashed: Employee with Emotional Disabilities May Be Entitled to Bring Comfort Animal to Work

A federal district court in Hawaii has ruled that the branch manager of a rental car company may have been discriminated against on the basis of his depression and adjustment disorder disabilities when he was terminated for an angry outburst directed at a subordinate after having been warned about similar misconduct on past occasions. Assaturian v. Hertz Corp. The final incident occurred about four months after the manager was told by his employer that he could no longer bring “Sugar Bear,” a Shih Tzu, to work with him unless he provided medical documentation establishing his need to do so. According to the manager, "Sugar Bear" was a licensed service animal that helped him control his emotions and reduce his stress. The manager had not complied with his employer's request for documentation by the time of the incident that led to his termination, but claimed during discovery in the lawsuit that he had not had sufficient opportunity to do so. According to the managers' co-workers, the dog was not leashed and regularly urinated on the floor.