Reasonable Accommodation

On January 1, 2021, various new and amended employment laws will go into effect in California. Below is a summary of some of these laws that employers should make themselves aware of heading into the new year.  All laws discussed in this post go into effect on January 1, 2021, unless otherwise noted.
Continue Reading New Employment Laws to Look Out for in 2021

On September 17, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 2694, the Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”), in a 329-73 vote.  The Senate will now consider the bill, which, if passed, would require employers to reasonably accommodate pregnant workers and employees with pregnancy-related conditions.  The bill would clarify an employer’s obligations set forth in the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision Young v. UPS, 135 S. Ct. 1338 (2015) and subsequent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) guidance.
Continue Reading Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act Heads to the Senate

Employers in New York City should begin to immediately take steps to ensure compliance with two new local laws that, beginning March 18, 2019, will impose stricter requirements on employers to accommodate nursing mothers. The new bills passed by the New York City Council became law on November 17, 2018, after Mayor Bill de Blasio failed to sign or veto the two pieces of legislation. While the new laws provide employers with a 120-day grace period, employers would be wise to utilize this short time period to understand the new requirements and undertake whatever efforts are necessary to be in compliance when the new requirements take effect this Spring.
Continue Reading Mother’s Milk: NYC Braces for New Workplace Lactation Room Requirements

With ever-increasing employer health care costs, it’s not surprising that Workplace Wellness Programs are becoming more common and comprehensive. According to Fidelity Investment’s fifth annual wellness survey, 95% of companies plan to offer some kind of health improvement program for their employees, and plan to spend an average of $594 per employee on wellness-based incentives. In a bid to reduce health care costs, and protect employees and customers from illness, many employers have implemented coercive, or even mandatory Workplace Wellness Programs. When these programs make employee participation a term and condition of employment, employers must administer them with care or risk violating federal, state and/or local employment laws.
Continue Reading Promoting Wellness, Not Litigation

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

As reported in our new laws for 2017 post, employers must give written notice to new employees (and to current employees upon request) explaining the rights of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. All California employers with at least 25 employees must be in compliance, effective July 1, 2017.
Continue Reading Now in Effect: California Employers Must Provide New Hires with Written Notice of Victim Rights

In Luis Castro-Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express, the California Court of Appeal held that California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) – which requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities – now requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees who are associated with a disabled person.  This is an unprecedented decision and will likely to be appealed.  Until that time, employers should train supervisors to seek assistance from human resources when making accommodations decisions, and to treat any such decisions on a case-by-case basis.
Continue Reading Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express: The Reasonable Accommodation of an Employee’s Family

This year the California Legislature added over a dozen new employment laws, many of which take effect on January 1, 2016.  Some of these laws impose new prohibitions on employers, while others provide positive benefits such as safe harbors, cure provisions, and employer incentives for reclassification of certain independent contractors.  This update highlights key provisions in some of the new laws taking effect January 1, 2016.  Links to the statutes are provided.
Continue Reading New Year, New Rules For Employers Doing Business in California

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