Is a Policy Requiring Employees to be 100% Healed Before Returning to Work a Problem?
The Situation: A company implements a policy under which any employee must be 100% healed from any medical condition before returning to work. Is this lawful?…READ MORE
Does Refusing a Request to Work Remotely Equal Discrimination?
The Situation: An employee has to be on bed rest for a number of months because of a medical condition. She requests that you allow her to telecommute. But because her job duties involve a lot of in person presentations and face to face meetings, you deny this request and require her to take unpaid leave. Could this be disability discrimination?…READ MORE
Is An Allergy a Disability?
The Situation: An applicant for a position in a hospital has a latex allergy, meaning he could have a reaction to the latex gloves used with regularity in the hospital. Is this allergy a disability? And, if so, what does the hospital have to do to accommodate it?…READ MORE
How Far Do You Have to Go to Accommodate a Religious Belief?
The Situation: An employee who is normally scheduled to work one Saturday a month tells you that he cannot do so because he is a Seventh Day Adventist (and thus celebrates Sabbath on Saturdays). You tell him he is free to use leave for any Saturdays on which he would otherwise have to work, but that when he runs out, he’ll have to find someone with whom he can swap shifts. Is this discrimination?…READ MORE
Return to Work Only When Cleared of Medical Restrictions—Is this a Problem?
The Situation: A company requires all employees returning to work from medical leave to be able to perform their essential job duties without any sort of accommodation—basically a 100% return-to-work policy. The policy applies across the board, no matter what the medical condition or what the employee’s position. Is this lawful?…READ MORE
What if an employee with bipolar disorder is aggressive and disruptive? Does the ADA prevent an employer from firing that employee?
Potentially not, depending on the circumstances, according to a recent case from Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Walz v. Ameriprise Financial, Inc., Case No. 14-2495 (March 9, 2015). In this case, the plaintiff Marissa Walz worked for Ameriprise in a job which required good people and communication skills, along with the ability to work well in a team and exercise good time management. Walz’s bipolar disorder caused her to interrupt meetings, disturb coworkers and disrespect her supervisor. Walz’s supervisor had repeated discussions with her about her behavior and eventually issued her a formal warning. Walz applied for FMLA leave which was granted by the third party that administers these requests for Ameriprise. Walz never told Ameriprise of the reason for her FMLA leave. When Walz returned to work, provided a doctor’s note stating that she had been stabilized on her medication. Upon her return, Walz also was given and signed Ameriprise’s Individual Treatment Policy (addressing disability discrimination and the process for requesting accommodation).…READ MORE
Watch Out for Age-based Commentary
Is calling an employee “old man” discriminatory? It could be--just yesterday, the EEOC announced that Wal-Mart has agreed to pay $150,000 and provide other relief to a resolve an age and disability lawsuit filed by the EEOC on behalf of an employee. The EEOC charged that Wal-Mart discriminated against the employee by subjecting him to harassment, discriminatory treatment, and discharge because of his age and refused to provide a reasonable accommodation for his disability.…READ MORE
What if an employee quits before hearing us out on our response to her reasonable accommodation request? Is my company liable?
No—according to a recent decision of the First Circuit Court of Appeals. EEOC v. Kohl’s Department Store, Inc., No. 14-1268 (1st Cir. Dec. 19, 2014). If an employee quits when she gets a negative response to her request for accommodation and fails to actually participate in the interactive process, the employer does not face liability. In this case, an employee suffering from type I diabetes worked for Kohl’s as a sales associate. The employee made a request for a particular type of accommodation related to her disability, which involved a particular schedule. Kohl’s was not willing to agree to the schedule outlined by the employee, but was willing to talk about other schedule options. But, before they could continue the conversation with the plaintiff, she stormed out and quit (and ignored Kohl’s later efforts to contact her and resume the discussion). The First Circuit found that Kohl’s was not liable.…READ MORE
Even Extremely Flexible Schedule Accommodation Request Not Unreasonable as a Matter of Law
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.…READ MORE
Policy Allowing No More Than Six Months’ Sick Leave Does Not Violate Rehabilitation Act
The Tenth Circuit was recently faced with the question of whether a university’s inflexible policy disallowing sick leave longer than six months violated the Rehabilitation Act. Rejecting the claims of the plaintiff, an assistant professor who sought more than six months leave after being diagnosed with and beginning treatment for cancer, the Tenth Circuit found that this policy did not itself violate the Rehabilitation Act. Hwang v. Kansas State University, No. 13-3070 (10th Cir. May 29, 2014).…READ MORE