Fourth Circuit FindsTemporary Impairment Covered by ADAAA

Darrell VanDeusen
Darrell VanDeusen
02/01/2014
It was pretty clear under the ADA that a temporary impairment was not a covered “disability.” But that was before Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (the “ADAAA”) in 2008, expanding the scope of protection.   Now, the Fourth Circuit has become the first appellate court to address the issue of “temporary impairment” under the ADAAA. Summers v. Altarum Inst., Corp., (4th Cir. January 23, 2014). Reversing...
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Nursing Home's Limited Accommodations Deemed Unlawful Pregnancy Discrimination

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently held that a nursing home’s policy of accommodating only restrictions from work-related incidents could be pretext for pregnancy discrimination.  Latowski v. Northwoods Nursing Center, No. 12-2408 (6th Cir. Dec. 23, 2013). Jennifer Latowski was employed as a certified nursing assistant (“CNA”) by Northwoods Nursing Center in Michigan.  Her doctor recommended a 50-pound lifting...
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Excavator Operator With Prosthetic Leg May Be Entitled To Reinstatement Under ADA

Garrett Wozniak
Garrett Wozniak
12/23/2013
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that an excavator operator with a prosthetic leg may be entitled to reinstatement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if he can perform the essential functions of his position safely.  Henschel v. Clare Cnty. Rd. Comm’n, No. 13-1528 (6th Cir. December 13, 2013). Wayne Henschel began working as an excavator operator for the Clare County Road Commission (CCRC) in 2007.  In August 2009,...
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Michigan Court Reffirms That ADA Requires Individualized Inquiry

Clifford Geiger
Clifford Geiger
12/14/2013
This week a federal court in Michigan reinforced the ADA's requirement that employers conduct an “individualized inquiry” to determine whether an applicant or employee with a disability can perform the essential functions of a job.  LaFata v. Dearborn Heights Sch. Dist. No.7, E.D. Mich., No. 2:13-cv-10755, 12/11/13 Adam LaFata applied for the position of Plant Engineer with Dearborn Heights School District No. 7.  He had worked as a building...
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Appellate Court Rejects Use of Title II of the ADA to Sue for Discrimination In Public Employment

As regular readers of The Employment Brief are aware, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides the basis for many lawsuits filed by current and former employees.  In the employment law arena, plaintiffs usually rely upon Title I of the ADA, which specifically prohibits employment discrimination based on a persons’ disability.  42 U.S.C. 12112(a). Government employees, however, sometimes rely upon Title II of the ADA when filing suit...
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Exhaustion of FMLA Leave with No Return Date Dooms Plaintiff’s Claims

Garrett Wozniak
Garrett Wozniak
11/18/2013
In Owens v. Calhoun County School District, No. 12-60897 (Oct. 8, 2013), the Fifth Circuit upheld a district court’s granting of summary judgment to an employer on a former employee’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claim. Karen Darlene Mann Owens taught at Bruce Upper Elementary School in Mississippi for seventeen years until she was fired in February 2010.  Owens suffered from neck and back pain, conditions which worsened over the...
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Court Finds Odor Sensitivity May Be Disability under ADAAA

Randi Klein Hyatt
Randi Klein Hyatt
11/15/2013
It seems like even the most minor ailment can make an employee “disabled” under the ADA these days.  For example, in 2010, the City of Detroit paid $100,000 to settle an accommodation claim raised by a “chemically sensitive” city worker who alleged that a coworker’s perfume and room deodorizer caused her to experience migraines, nausea and coughing.  McBride v. City of Detroit, No. 2:07-cv-12794 (E.D. Mich. 2010).  Last week, an...
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ADA Does Not Require Reasonable Accommodation To Be Related To Essential Function

In Feist v. Louisiana, No. 12-31065 (5th Cir. Sept. 16, 2013), the Fifth Circuit concluded that a former employee of the Louisiana Department of Justice (LDOJ) was not required to demonstrate that she needed a designated parking spot in order to perform an essential job function. Pauline Feist, a former assistant attorney general for the LDOJ, sued her former employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), alleging that the LDOJ...
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Termination Letter Citing Employee’s “Medical Reasons” Was Direct Evidence Of Disability Discrimination

Randi Klein Hyatt
Randi Klein Hyatt
09/27/2013
A Tennessee federal district court granted summary judgment to an employee on his disability discrimination claim based on a letter confirming that he was terminated for “medical reasons.”  Lovell v. Champion Car Wash, 3:12-00254 (M.D. Tenn. September 3, 2013).  This case is the epitome of how an employer’s untrained approach to employment issues can be damaging. Mr. Lovell worked for a car wash company (Champion), and because of his medical...
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Measuring Equality For All

Peter Saucier
Peter Saucier
08/30/2013
For years Americans have strived to protect individuals with disabilities and veterans from discrimination.  If you can do the job, and do it well, you ought not be disadvantaged by a physical or mental impairment that does not interfere with your ability to do the job.  Moreover, if you served your country in the military you ought not be treated unfairly. Now, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, a division of the Department of...
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