failure to accommodate

Employers face possible claims for failure to accommodate even where there is no actual knowledge of a need for accommodation

Posted on June 5, 2015

Back in March, I posted about the case before the United States Supreme Court involving a girl who claimed that she was discriminated against because of her religion when Abercrombie & Fitch didn’t hire her because of her headscarf. The Tenth Circuit had found that because the plaintiff did not inform Abercrombie before its hiring decision that her practice of wearing a headscarf was based on her religious beliefs and that she would thus need an accommodation. On Monday, the Supreme Court reversed that decision, holding that to prevail in an disparate treatment claim under Title VII, an applicant must only show that her need for an accommodation was a motivating factor in the employer’s decision, and not that the employer actually knew of her need. EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch, Inc., 575 U.S. ___ (2015).…

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Supreme Court ruling strengthens protections under PDA

Posted on March 27, 2015

Earlier this week, the United States Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of protections afforded to pregnant women under the PDA, but stopped short of giving pregnant women “most-favored-nation” status. Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., Case No. 12-1226.…

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Does an employee have to specifically ask for a religious accommodation?

Posted on March 6, 2015

The United States Supreme Court heard argument this past week on this very issue in the case of EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., a case appealed from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Samantha Elauf was a teenager in Tulsa, Oklahoma who applied to work at an Abercrombie & Fitch store in 2008. Elauf, a Muslim, wore her headscarf (“hijab”) to the interview. Abercrombie has a “not hats” policy for sales associates and thus did not hire Elauf. Of course, Title VII prohibits denying employment based on a religious practice, unless accommodating the practice would impose a substantial burden. The EEOC brought a lawsuit on Elauf’s behalf and won in federal district court, but then the Tenth Circuit reversed the decision, agreeing with Abercrombie’s argument that it was not required to give Elauf a religious accommodation because she had not specifically asked for one (basically never told Abercrombie that she wore her hijab for religious reasons).…

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Even Extremely Flexible Schedule Accommodation Request Not Unreasonable as a Matter of Law

Posted on October 17, 2014

The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit recently reversed the decision of the district court in the case of Solomon v. Vilsack, No. 12-5123 (D.C. Cir. August 15, 2014), a case involving an employee’s request to have significant flexibility in the her working hours as a reasonable accommodation for her disability. The district court had granted summary judgment to the employer, the Department of Agriculture, on the grounds that a “maxiflex work schedule” such as that sought by the plaintiff was an unreasonable accommodation request as a matter of law. The Court of Appeals disagreed, stating that “[n]othing in the Rehabilitation Act establishes, as a matter of law, that a maxiflex work schedule is unreasonable” and leaving for remand the factual question of whether this request would have been reasonable on this case.…

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No USERRA Claim Where Vet Terminated Based on Threats Made Against Co-workers

Posted on September 26, 2014
Posted in Other

In a recent decision, a judge in the Eastern District of Virginia dismissed the claims asserted by a United States Army veteran with PTSD that his employer had terminated him in violation of both the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemplyoment Rights Act (“USERRA”) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Williamson v. Bon Secours Richmond Health System, Inc., Case No. 3:13-cv-704 (July 28, 2014). In this case, other employees had reported that the plaintiff had made a number of threatening statements about taking violent actions against co-workers. The court found that the employer was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on plaintiff’s claims of discrimination under USERRA and the ADA and his failure to accommodate claim under the ADA.…

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Telecommuting—A Reasonable Accommodation?

Posted on May 2, 2014

Can an employee request the ability to work from home as a reasonable accommodation? And how easy is it for an employer to demonstrate that an employee’s physical presence in the workplace is required? In a world in which telecommuting is becoming ever more prevalent, yet companies still maintain that they benefit greatly from employees’ face to face interactions with both their coworkers and customers, these are difficult questions for employers. In its recent decision in EEOC v. Ford Motor Company, No. 12-2484 (April 22, 2014), the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals addressed these complex issues, reversing the district court’s decision awarding summary judgment to Ford and finding that the EEOC had created a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the employee was otherwise qualified for the position where she was unable to be physically present in the workplace at all times due to a disability and had also created a genuine issue of material fact as to whether she was improperly terminated in retaliation for exercising her rights under the ADA.…

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