Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA")

Amid the United States’ growing opioid crisis, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued new guidance on employers’ obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) regarding job applicants or employees who legally use opioid medications or who have a history of addiction to opioids.  The guidance is not new policy; rather, the guidance applies principles already established under both the ADA and previously-issued EEOC guidance.
Continue Reading EEOC Issues Guidance on Employee Opioid Use and the Americans With Disabilities Act

Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander? Not necessarily. The Ninth Circuit and California Court of Appeals recently decided two cases that substantially limit the scope and application of freedom of religion rights rooted in the U.S. Constitution. Together, these cases narrow the definition of the term “minister,” and expand the spectrum of employment law claims which may be brought against a religious employer. This new interpretation of freedom of religion rights may be difficult to reconcile with existing law from the U.S. Supreme Court which bars a minister from bringing employment discrimination claims against a religious employer.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit and California Court of Appeals Rule on Freedom of Religion Rights

As of October 15, 2018, NYC employers with four or more employees will be required to engage in a “cooperative dialogue” with a person who may be entitled to a workplace accommodation. The “cooperative dialogue” resembles the “interactive process” that most employers are familiar with under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but the NYC law applies to more than disability-related accommodations and, importantly, requires employers to document the cooperative dialogue process. We have prepared this short Q&A to help employers understand their obligations under the new law.
Continue Reading New NYC Law Requires Employers to Engage in “Cooperative Dialogue” for Workplace Accommodations

In recent years, businesses have been inundated with a wave of serial litigation wherein private plaintiffs have argued that websites that are insufficiently compatible with screen reading software are in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The typical allegation in such cases is that the plaintiff could not read the website and, as a result, could not access the goods and services offered by the company. These private plaintiffs have taken advantage of the current ambiguity in the law to bring multiple lawsuits. At least two ADA website accessibility claims are on appeal before the Ninth and Eleventh Circuits to hopefully provide clarity to covered entities on what current obligations, if any, they have to make their websites accessible to persons with disabilities.
Continue Reading Is Your Online Job Application Accessible To The Visually Impaired? The Newest Website Accessibility Claims

Last month, New York’s highest court took the unprecedented step of construing the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) more narrowly than its state and federal counterparts to bar plaintiffs’ city law disability discrimination claims. Answering a certified question from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the New York Court of Appeals in Makinen v. City of New York, Nos. 16-973-cv(L), 16-1080-cv(XAP), 2017 WL 4621717 (N.Y. Oct. 17, 2017) held that two former New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) officers could not sustain disability discrimination claims on the basis of “perceived untreated alcoholism,” even though such claims would be recognized under the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
Continue Reading New York’s Highest Court Narrowly Construes New York City Human Rights Law To Bar Disability Discrimination Claims Based on Perceived Alcoholism

The Seventh Circuit recently held in Severson v. Heartland Woodcraft, Inc. that a long-term leave of absence, particularly one extending beyond the twelve weeks of leave guaranteed by the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), does not warrant protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).

Raymond Severson was terminated from his job as a fabricator at Heartland after he exhausted his 12-week medical leave under the FMLA and requested to remain off work for several additional months to recover from back surgery. Severson sued Heartland under the ADA, arguing Heartland failed to provide him with a reasonable accommodation—namely, a three-month leave of absence following the expiration of his FMLA leave.
Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Holds Long-Term Leave is Not a Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA

On May 21, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Noll v. International Business Machines Corporation, Case No. 13-4096 (May 21, 2015), affirmed a decision by the Southern District of New York which granted the defendant-employer summary judgment on the plaintiff-employee’s claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”).  Specifically, the Second Circuit held that: (i) the employer reasonably accommodated plaintiff by providing American Sign Language (“ASL”) interpreters capable of translating intranet files; and (ii) in light of this accommodation, plaintiff had no claim under the ADA or the NYSHRL that the employer failed to engage in the interactive process.
Continue Reading Second Circuit Holds: You Can’t Always Get What You Want – As Long As Your Employer Gives You What You Need (An Effective Accommodation)

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently issued proposed regulations addressing how the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) applies to corporate wellness programs.  These proposed regulations are intended to provide employers with guidance on how to encourage workers to participate in wellness programs without violating federal law.  Employers with wellness programs, or those who are thinking about instituting wellness programs, should become familiar with the proposed regulations if they wish to avoid litigation.
Continue Reading An Ounce Of Prevention…Does Your Voluntary Wellness Program Comply With Proposed EEOC Regulations?

On April 10, 2015, in an eagerly awaited decision interpreting the reasonable accommodation provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled, en banc, in favor of Ford Motor Co., rejecting the EEOC’s claim that Ford violated the ADA by not allowing a disabled employee to telecommute as a reasonable accommodation.  EEOC v. Ford Motor Co., No. 12-2484.  Eight judges on the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of Ford, while five dissented.  The decision highlights many of the thorny issues concerning telecommuting as a potential reasonable accommodation under the ADA.  It also underscores the importance of engaging in a good faith “interactive process” with a disabled employee requesting accommodation.
Continue Reading Sixth Circuit Holds That Ford Motor Co. Was Not Required to Accommodate Telecommuting

Effective March 24, 2014, a new rule from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs will require federal contractors and subcontractors to take additional steps to recruit, hire, and retain individuals with disabilities, including surveying employees regarding their disability status and making efforts to employ a minimum of seven percent disabled workers.
Continue Reading Federal Contractors Face New Requirements Regarding Recruitment, Hiring, and Identification of Individuals with Disabilities

By Evgenia Fkiaras

Following a trend by the Federal government to liberalize anti-discrimination laws in favor of employees, the Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) has proposed regulations that would require employers who wish to keep their contracts (and subcontracts) with the Federal government to attempt to maintain a workforce where 7% of employees are individuals with disabilities. The public comment period for this proposal has just closed, and the OFCCP is now in the process of reviewing respondents’ reactions.


Continue Reading OFCCP May Impose Explicit Goals for Federal Contractors’ Hiring of Individuals with Disabilities