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Must Your Stadium, Theater, or Museum Offer Complimentary Admission to Personal Care Providers?

Are public accommodations required to admit personal care providers for free? That’s the question that the lawyers in our Disability Access Practice Group have been hearing with increasing frequency since the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania issued a decision in May of 2016 holding that The Franklin Institute, a nonprofit museum, was required to offer complimentary admission to the personal care attendant of a severely disabled individual. Below we provide a brief overview of the case and its currently narrow reach, an even shorter critique of the decision, and finally a summary of what your public accommodation may want to consider in the wake of the decision. Anderson v. The Franklin Institute, No. 13-5374 (May 6, 2016).

Employee Seeking a Less Stressful Work Environment Denied ADA Protections

In a case addressing a challenging accommodation scenario faced by many employers, a Florida District Court held in Hargett v. Florida Atlantic University Board of Trustees that an employee seeking a less stressful environment and an end to hostile confrontations with her manager was not seeking a reasonable accommodation. The employee suffered from epilepsy with seizures brought on by high tension and stress. She demanded as a reasonable accommodation that her supervisor cease his “hostile confrontations” with her. She also requested that her employer provide her with “calm, fair, non-confrontational treatment.”

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 Violated Drug Testing Policy Defeated ADA Claims

An employer that terminated an employee based on its honest belief the employee violated its drug policy was entitled to summary judgment on the employee’s Americans with Disabilities Act claim, according to a Kentucky federal court. The court also granted summary judgment to the employer on the employee’s failure to accommodate and wrongful discharge claims. Adkins v. Excel Mining, LLC, 7:15-cv-00133-ART-EBA (E.D. Ky. Oct. 4, 2016).

Does the ADA Protect a Customer Service Agent With Dissatisfied Customers? The Ninth Circuit Says No

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled against a failure-to accommodate claim brought by a customer service employee who was fired for poor performance. According to the court, the former employee, who suffered from endometriosis and headaches, was not able to show that she was qualified to perform the essential functions of a customer service job. Kelley v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 13-36114, United State Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The Eighth Circuit & the ADA, Part II: Must a Request for Accommodation be Explicit?

In contrast to Parker v. Crete Carrier Corporation, et al, in Kowitz v. Trinity Health, et al, No. 15-1584 (October 17, 2016), a split panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment for an employer on an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claim, finding a factual dispute about whether the employer knew the employee needed an accommodation despite the absence of a formal request for accommodation.

The Eighth Circuit & the ADA, Part I: Court Tips the Scale in Employer’s Favor in Suit Challenging Sleep Test for Overweight Workers

In Parker v. Crete Carrier Corporation, et al, No. 16-1371 (October 12, 2016), the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a trucking company complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in requiring its drivers with body mass indexes (BMI) of 35 or above to undergo in-lab sleep studies to determine if they had sleep apnea, which could cause them to fall asleep at the wheel.

Finding the “Implicit” Accommodation Request

It is common gospel that when a qualified disabled employee requests accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), both employer and employee must engage in an interactive dialogue to discuss the options.

Telework Under The ADA & Other Nondiscrimination Laws

A workforce that adheres to a traditional work style, or a consistent eight-hour workday in the same location – with no offsite work or interaction with business colleagues or customers – is increasingly becoming a relic in many settings. Whether at a coffee house, commuter train, airport lounge, or soccer field, transactions, communications, and decisions take place on a range of devices away from the brick-and-mortar jobsite.

To Accommodate or not to Accommodate: How to Know if Your Employee Actually Requested a Reasonable Accommodation

A divided federal appeals court recently reminded employers that an employee’s request for a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) need not be explicit in order to invoke the interactive accommodation process. In Kowitz v. Trinity Health, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals found that, based on the circumstances presented in the case, an employee had made an implied request for a reasonable accommodation.