Reasonable accommodation

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

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