No Telework Accommodation For IBS Says En Banc Sixth Circuit

Last year the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) tooted its horn with a victory when a three-judge panel on the Sixth Circuit held (2-1) that Ford Motor Company might have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to permit an employee with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) from teleworking up to four days a week.  Reversing that decision, the en banc Sixth Circuit held (8-5) that there was no ADA violation because...
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Customer Rep With Social Anxiety Can Proceed to Trial on Disability Claims

Bernadette Hunton
Bernadette Hunton
03/18/2015
Can an employer lawfully fire a customer service employee whose social anxiety precludes her from interacting with customers? Not before exploring whether it can offer the employee a reasonable accommodation to perform her job duties, explained the Fourth Circuit in last week’s decision: Jacobs v. N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts, No. 13-2212 (4th Cir. Mar. 12, 2015). In this case, Christina Jacobs, who suffered from social anxiety...
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No ADA Claim For Teacher With Fear Of Young Children

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee who is a qualified individual with a disability. Employers are not required to provide unreasonable accommodations, such as those that do not enable an employee to perform the essential functions of a job or require the employer to create a new position. The Sixth Circuit recently reiterated this well-established rule in a case...
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Check Your FMLA Policy

Clifford Geiger
Clifford Geiger
01/30/2015
Employers must be careful about treating employees as if the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) applies if, in fact, it does not apply. On January 26, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that Terry Tilley, an employee of the Kalamazoo County Road Commission (the “Commission”), could proceed with his FMLA claims even though he did not meet the FMLA’s definition of an “eligible employee.”  Tilley v. Kalamazoo Cnty....
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Fear of Needles Leads to Jury Verdict for Pharmacist

Clifford Geiger
Clifford Geiger
01/29/2015
On January 23, 2015, a federal jury New York awarded a former Rite Aid pharmacist Christopher Stevens $2.6 million in damages on a claim he brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the New York State Human Rights Law. Stevens has a fear of needles, which is otherwise known as trypanophobia. Stevens alleged that when receiving and witnessing injections, and observing surgical procedures involving the use of needles, he exhibited...
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Court Holds Employer Who Fired Employee For Making Death Threats May Have Violated ADA

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
01/23/2015
Does an employer violate the ADA by firing an employee three weeks after the employee informs security that he is “unstable” and having homicidal thoughts? However unlikely a “yes” answer to that question may seem, a judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania concluded that it was possible in Walton v. Spherion Staffing LLC, No. 13-6896 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 13, 2015). Both the ADA and state disability discrimination laws permit employers to...
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President Obama Proposes Mandatory Paid SIck Leave Law

Bernadette Hunton
Bernadette Hunton
01/15/2015
Two years ago, my twins were born ten weeks premature in a foreign country. Five months in the NICU followed by a terminal illness diagnosis for my son, I was left with no choice but to leave my job. I was fortunate. Not only did I receive support as I navigated those initial months of uncertainty, when circumstances changed and I was able to come back to work, I was invited to return to my former position. For many American workers, this would not...
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Employee Who Quit, And Ended Accommodation Talks, Has No ADA Claim

In a 2-1 decision, the First Circuit Court of Appeals held that an employee who prematurely ended the interactive process when she quit could not maintain her ADA failure to accommodate claim against her former employer.  In EEOC v. Kohl's Dep't Stores, Inc., No. 14-1268 (1st Cir. Dec. 19, 2014), Pamela Manning, a sales employee with diabetes, had requested a steady and predictable work schedule from the department store, where she worked from 2006...
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Breaking News: Threatening to Shoot Supervisor's Children is Grounds for Discharge

Sometimes I wonder why a lawyer decides to take a case.  Other times I wonder why a lawyer decides to appeal a case he never should have taken. And then there are times where I ask myself both those questions in the same case. This week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit  decided a disability discrimination claim that falls squarely within the latter category. Curley v. City of N. Las Vegas, No. 12-16228 (12/2/14). The case...
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Costco's Harassment Policy May Create Contractual Rights

Most employers include written workplace harassment policies in handbooks and other employment documents. While many such policies state that the employer will comply with its obligations under federal and local law, some go farther. Such was the case at Costco, where an "Employee Agreement" signed by all employees stated that "harassment" has a broader meaning than "as defined by law."  While such "extra-broad"  policies may be a well intentioned...
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