Telework May Be A Continuing Reasonable Accommodation

The case of Brownlow v. Alfa Vision Insurance Co., No. 3:18-cv-01241 (M.D. Tenn. Mar. 22, 2021), involves a set of facts from pre-COVID times (2016 and 2017 to be exact).  Mr. Brownlow, a former claims appraiser for an automobile insurance company, was diagnosed with a variety of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety and PTSD.  He requested and was granted the ability to telework as a reasonable accommodation for a period...
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EEOC Issues Updated Guidance On Religious Discrimination

Last month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published a new update to its 2008 guidance on religious discrimination in the workplace.  Recognizing the "altered legal landscape" that has transpired in the last 12 years, the agency issued a modernized version of its guidance that covers employer obligations and employee rights.  Specifically, the guidance addresses: Coverage, including when a particular religious practice or...
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EEOC's Updated COVID-19 Guidance: Employees Not Entitled To Accommodations Because They Live With High-Risk Individuals; Treat Older Workers Equally Despite Risk

In an updated guidance on COVID-19, the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws, the EEOC has clarified an employer need not accommodate an employee's request to telework who is not high risk but lives with high risk individuals.  The EEOC has also clarified that companies may not mandate exclude older workers and pregnant employees from the workplace even though public health authorities advise they are a higher risk group for severe...
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The Inability To Work For A Particular Supervisor Is NOT A Disability Under The ADAAA

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals reconfirmed the well-established principle under the Americans with Disabilities Act that an employee must be unable to work in a broad class or range of jobs in order to be disabled within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA).  In particular, in Woolf v. Strada, the Second Circuit held that an employee who was unable to work in his particular job as a result of stress...
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New California Law Adds Protected Status Based On Hairstyle

This past week marked not only the anniversary of our Independence Day, but also the 55th anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Amidst this well-deserved fanfare, California became the first state to make hairstyle a protected status under its state anti-discrimination law, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Presently, employers who take actions based on an individual’s headwear, when worn for religious reasons...
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Employee Grooming Standards: Ensuring Your Policy Complies With Title VII

Last week, as many readers are likely aware, a high school wrestling referee in New Jersey ordered an African American student wrestler tocut his dreadlocksimmediately prior to a match, or else forfeit the match.  According to the referee, the dreadlocks and head covering the wrestler offered to wear violated the league’s rules.  A video of the controversial haircut hit the internet, quickly inciting responses from many people that the...
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Jury Decides That Mercedes Benz Did Not Deliver The Best To A Former Employee With Cancer

A Mercedes Benz dealership in Seattle violated the Americans With Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) and Washington state disability law when it denied its finance director the chance to return to work after his surgery for vocal chord cancer.  The federal jury awarded the employee nearly $5 million. Troy Coachman worked for Seattle Auto Management, Inc. as a finance director.  His lawsuit alleges he was a top producer, generating...
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U.S. House Votes To Amend ADA's Public Accommodations Requirements

This past Thursday, the House of Representatives passed (by a vote of 225 to 192) the “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017.”  The bill is designed predominantly to alter the procedures that must be followed concerning alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, and shopping malls. Since 1990, the ADA has barred public accommodations from depriving any...
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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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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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