Employer Need Not Grant Indefinite Leave of Absence As An Accommodation

Clifford Geiger
Clifford Geiger
11/12/2017
A federal court in West Virginia recently held that an employer is not required to grant an indefinite leave of absence as an accommodation under a state disability discrimination law. Davis v. Universal Cable Holdings, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:16-cv-06526, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 183881 (S.D. W. Va. Nov. 6, 2017).  The case involved Ronald Davis, who  worked as a Broad Band Technician for Universal Cable Holdings, Inc. (“Universal Holdings).  His...
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In A Surprising ADA Plot Twist, The Seventh Circuit Affirms Additional Leave Is Not Always The Answer!

Employers with employees on leave often wrestle with the situation where the employee has exhausted all leave available under policy and statute, but are still not able to return to work and seek additional time off, usually supported by a doctor's note. While the FMLA or similar statutory leave may no longer be available, I know I am often discussing with my clients whether further leave should be offered due to potential reasonable accommodation...
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Nuclear, Nucular, and Reasonable Accommodations

Garrett Wozniak
Garrett Wozniak
09/14/2017
Remember when President George W. Bush, when discussing nuclear weapons, pronounced the word “nuclear” as “nucular”? It is probably no surprise that reading ability is important when it comes to those who work with nuclear materials. It is also unsurprising that a reasonable accommodation may be appropriate for someone who works with nuclear materials, but who also has a disability. In Sanchez v. U.S. Dep’t of Energy, No. 16-2056 (10th Cir....
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EEOC’s Wellness Program Rules Run into a Roadblock

Healthcare in the U.S. is a hard issue.  And it’s expensive too.  Ok, you know that.  Years ago, some employers concluded that one way to reduce healthcare costs was to figure out who might get really sick and then either not hire them, or fire them.  Really a bad idea, and one that led to passage of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) and similar state laws. So, many employers looked to more “benign” ways to encourage...
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Spider Bite Opens Up Major Wound for City

Reminding us of the importance of lawful employment policies (and sticking to them!), the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee recently decided that an African-American former employee may proceed with his Title VII retaliation and ADA failure to accommodate claims against the City of Lewisburg, Tennessee.  La’Monn Harris v. The City of Lewisburg, Tennessee et al, No. 1:15-cv-00114, 2017 BL 265703 (M.D. Tenn. July 31,...
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Temporary Workers Must Show Up For Work

It is no secret that attendance at work is an essential function of  most jobs.  As explained by a recent decision from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, Punt v. Kelly Servs., No. 16-1026 (10th Cir. July 6, 2017), an employee’s failure to just show up can be fatal to failure to accommodate claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The case involved a temporary employee for Kelly Services (Kelly) who was assigned to work at  GE...
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7th Circuit Affirms Denial of “Electromagnetic Sensitivity” Discrimination Claim in Not-So-Shocking Decision

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
04/14/2017
Earlier this week,  a new season of the TV drama, Better Call Saul premiered, and with it came the return of the character, Charles “Chuck” McGill.  Chuck, a brilliant lawyer and named partner at his esteemed law firm, suffers from “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” – which causes him to confine himself to his home without electricity and surrounded by endless sheets of aluminum, and causes others to question his mental...
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Every Dog Has Its Day (In Court): Teacher May Go to Trial Over School’s Denial of Chihuahua at Work

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
04/11/2017
In a recent decision out of South Carolina, a federal judge ruled that a teacher may proceed to trial on her disability discrimination claim against her school district for declining to allow her Chihuahua to accompany her at work in the classroom.  Clark v. Sch. Dist. Five of Lexington & Richland Ctys., No. 3:15-cv-2664-CMC-PJG, 2017 BL 100456 (D.S.C. Mar. 29, 2017). Under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), employers have a duty...
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Employer’s Inconsistent Explanations Permits Claim To Survive Summary Judgment

A recent decision out of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Caldwell v. KHOU-TV, No. 16-20408 (5th Cir. March 6, 2017), offers an obvious, but important, reminder for employers -- provide consistent reasons for why you make employment decisions.  Be honest.  Be consistent.  Don’t make stuff up.  Otherwise, plaintiff-employees may be able to assail your explanation when and if litigation ensues.  In Caldwell, the plaintiff claimed that he was...
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EEOC Issues New Guidance on Accommodating Mental Health Disorders

Bernadette Hunton
Bernadette Hunton
01/30/2017
The EEOC issued a resource document last month that discusses employee rights in the workplace related to mental health conditions.  Below is a summary of key points: It Is Illegal to Discriminate Against an Employee Based on a Mental Health Condition. Discrimination includes, among other things, discharge, failure to hire or promote, and forced leave.  Employers are not required to hire or retain employees who pose a “direct threat” to...
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