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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Pharmacist Needled Out Of $2.6M Jury Award

A pharmacist with trypanophobia (a fear of needles, yes I had to Google that), worked for Rite Aid Corp. (and its predecessors) for 34 years.  In 2011, Rite Aid made administering immunizations an explicit job requirement for its pharmacists.  The needle-fearing pharmacist submitted medical notes about his trypanophobia which explained his blood pressure would spike, he would get anxious and lightheaded at the sight of a needle, and could faint,...
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Court Puts "Difficulty Sleeping" Disability Claim to Rest

This past weekend, I became a proud first-time father of a beautiful baby girl! Among the many helpful and prescient pieces of advice my wife Mikah and I received from others during her pregnancy were variations on the theme of, “Get sleep while you can.” Words of wisdom, indeed. Recently, however, a college professor argued that his difficulty in getting a restful night’s sleep was not only an inconvenience but one that rendered him disabled...
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UPS Manager’s Disability Does Not Excuse Perceived Racist Comment

Christopher Schaffhauser, a white male, sued United Parcel Services (UPS) after he was demoted from manager to supervisor for saying he would hit an African-American coworker so hard it would "knock the black off him." Schaffhauser’s lawsuit asserted race discrimination and a failure to accommodate his medical condition.  This note focuses on the ADA failure to accommodate claim. The Court described the circumstances leading to Schaffhauser’s...
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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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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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EEOC Issues New Guidance On Religious Dress And Grooming Standards

The EEOC recently published new technical assistance explaining its view of how federal employment discrimination law, specifically Title VII, applies to religious dress and grooming standards.  Employers may encounter many types of religious dress and grooming practices according to the EEOC, including:  (a) wearing religious clothing or articles (e.g., a Muslim hijab, a Sikh turban, or a Christian cross); (b) observing a prohibition on wearing...
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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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