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Ninth Circuit: Employee Who Threatens to Kill Co-Workers Not "Qualified Individual with Disability"

Timothy Mayo was a welder. He made some specific threats to kill certain supervisors at his employer, PCC Structurals, Inc. Co-workers complained. The company sent him home. The police visited him and he checked into a hospital. The company terminated his employment.

Is Obesity a Disability?

A case currently pending before the Eighth Circuit will address whether ADA protections should extend to obese workers. With more than 2/3 of the US adult population considered overweight, recognition of obesity as a disability under the ADA – defined as physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities – will result in accommodations and protections in unprecedented numbers.

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.