Executive Summary: On Tuesday, October 22, 2019, a Tennessee federal judge rejected a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in which it claimed a nursing home failed to accommodate an employee with anxiety. Finding that the EEOC failed to show the employee’s anxiety qualified as a disability, this decision offers hope to employers faced with requests for accommodation where the employee claims generalized anxiety.
Articles about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and other issues relating to disability discrimination in the workplace.
he Sixth Circuit previously explained in Hostettler v. College of Wooster, 895 F.3d 844 (6th Cir. 2018) that regular, in-person attendance is not a per se essential function of every job. Rather, employers must tie time-and-presence requirements to the specific job at issue. In Popeck v. Rawlings Co., LLC, No. 19-5092 (6th Cir. Oct. 16, 2019), the Court ruled that Rawlings showed regular, on-site attendance was an essential function of Popeck’s auditor job, and Popeck was not a qualified individual under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) because she could not perform this essential function.
A federal appeals court upheld the termination of an employee who tested positive for amphetamines on a random drug test – despite his claim that the result was due to over-the-counter drug use – and rejected his arguments that the random drug test was an impermissible medical examination and that the Medical Review Officer’s questions constituted an impermissible disability-related inquiry. Turner v. Phillips 66 Co., Case No. 19-5030 (10th Cir. Oct. 16, 2019).
This certainly sounds futuristic. (Pun intended.) Still, in a case just decided by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, EEOC v. STME, LLC, the EEOC espoused precisely this position.
Executive Summary: On August 30, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, covering New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, issued a precedential opinion in an important case interpreting the Americans With Disabilities Act’s (ADA) public accommodations provision and its interaction with persons who rely on psychiatric service animals. In summary, the court: (1) deepened a circuit split by joining the Tenth Circuit in holding that the ADA applies to plasma donor centers; and (2) held that the plasma donor center at issue violated the ADA by imposing a blanket ban on prospective plasma donors who use psychiatric service animals. See Matheis v. CSL Plasma, Inc., (3d Cir. Aug. 30, 2019).
2019 has brought a flurry of new leave and accommodation laws. In fact, in the first 8 months of 2019, more than 20 new laws in this area have passed.
On August 20, 2019, the Ninth Circuit dodged answering the question of whether morbid obesity is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In Valtierra v. Medtronic Inc., No. 17-15282, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant, but came short of joining the Second, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Circuits in explicitly holding that obesity cannot constitute a disability under applicable EEOC regulations unless there is evidence that the obesity is caused by an underlying physiological condition.
Today’s post highlights one of many examples of cases employers should never have to spend tens of thousands of dollars litigating.
While it’s true that acts of generosity sometimes backfire on those who offer them, the Court’s ruling in Higgins v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., No. 18-1902 (8th Cir. July 24, 2019) shows this is not always the case. In Higgins, the Eighth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for Union Pacific—holding that regular, reliable attendance was an essential function of Higgins’ position despite the fact that Union Pacific accommodated Higgins’ poor attendance for over a decade.
“What did I do wrong?” and “Am I doing this correctly” are frequent questions from clients regarding FMLA administration. This is the 24th blog in this series, which digs into the FMLA regulations to address discrete mis-steps that can result in legal liability.
On June 12, 2019, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling in the case of Richardson v. Chicago Transit Authority, which was the appeal of a dismissal of the case after the lower court found that obesity is not an impairment under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) absent an underlying physiological cause. An issue of first impression in the Seventh Circuit (the federal appeals court with jurisdiction over Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin), the court agreed with prior decisions in the Second, Sixth, and Eighth Circuits, and upheld the dismissal. The Seventh Circuit held that obesity is not an ADA impairment unless there is evidence of an underlying physiological cause. It also held that CTA did not perceive the plaintiff, a 596-pound bus driver, to be disabled when it terminated him due to safety issues.
A federal court in New York dismissed a disability discrimination claim asserted under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) based on allegedly “excessive” drug and alcohol testing of employees after they failed drug or alcohol tests required under the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)’s regulations. Vuono, et al. v. Consolidated Edison of New York, Inc., Case No. 1:18-cv-016365-VEC (S.D.N.Y. June 11, 2019).
Making fun of a co-worker’s weight may be rude, but is it illegal? A New Jersey court recently addressed claims of disability discrimination and hostile work environment by an employee complaining of comments made by co-workers about his weight.
While we continue to wait for guidance from the government on website accessibility standards, plaintiffs continue to challenge the accessibility of company websites. For years, individuals have brought lawsuits claiming that their access to goods and services is limited under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities (“ADA”). More recently we have seen individuals challenge their access to employment under Title I of the ADA due to online application processes that they claim are not accessible.
Executive Summary: Recent actions by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) emphasize employers’ obligations under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to accommodate workers’ religious objections to receiving a flu vaccination. For example, a Middle Tennessee hospital has agreed to pay $75,000 and perform other non-monetary actions to settle an EEOC lawsuit claiming it violated Title VII by failing to accommodate a worker’s sincerely held religious beliefs against receiving an annual flu vaccination.