In December 2017, the California Court of Appeal published a decision confirming obesity is a protected disability in California if it has a physiological cause.

In Cornell v. Berkeley Tennis Club, 18 Cal. App. 5th 908 (2017), Plaintiff was a woman diagnosed as severely obese, weighing over 350 pounds, at five feet five inches tall. Plaintiff began working for Defendant the Berkeley Tennis Club in 1997. Over the course of her employment, Plaintiff worked as a lifeguard, pool manager, and night manager. During her employment, Plaintiff received positive reviews, merit bonuses, and raises.
Continue Reading Obese Employees May Be Protected Under FEHA

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

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