Posts tagged Americans with Disabilities Act.

Recently, many health care employers and other large corporations have implemented programs requiring their employees to get a flu vaccination. Some legal experts have suggested that these mandates may be problematic for employers.  Specifically, employers may face religious based objections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or disability based objections under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it has filed lawsuits in recent years against employers under Title VII where employees were fired for objecting to a vaccination for sincere religious beliefs.  The EEOC has also stated that a company would likely violate the ADA, if it were to take adverse action against an employee who refused to get a flu vaccination for a disability related reason, such as an allergic reaction to the vaccine.

In a potentially important decision over workplace accommodations in an environment when telecommuting is more common, the Sixth Circuit ruled on April 10 that an employer does not need to permit an employee to work from home when an essential aspect of the employee’s position requires being in the office. 

Stressing that technology has made telecommuting easier, the Sixth Circuit yesterday revived the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's claims that Ford Motor Co. failed to accommodate a worker with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) by refusing her request to work from home most days. 

Determining how to reasonably accommodate an employee with a disability can be difficult for employers.  The Sixth Circuit’s decision in Kempter v. Michigan Bell Telephone Co., et al. affirms common-sense law – namely, that in reasonably accommodating a disabled employee, employers are not required to convert temporary light-duty work into a full-time position, reassign a disabled employee to a position he/she is not qualified for, or which would displace another employee’s rights, or create a new position. 

As most employers are aware, the definition of what constitutes a “disability” for purposes of providing a reasonable workplace accommodation was broadened significantly with the enactment of the Americans with Disability Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). 

In addressing a disability discrimination claim under the ADA, the Eleventh Circuit ruled this past week that an indefinite leave of absence does not constitute a reasonable accommodation.

The recently released 2012 EEOC enforcement statistics indicated an overall decrease in charges and increase in damages paid by employers.  Notably, for the second consecutive year, the EEOC reduced its pending inventory of private sector charges by 10% from fiscal year 2011, bringing inventory to 70,312.  However, the EEOC obtained the largest amount of monetary recovery in 2012, totaling $365.4 million.  Leading the states in originating charges was Texas at 9.0% of charges filed nationally, followed by Florida (8.0%) and California (7.4%).   

As the FMLA celebrates its 20th birthday this February, social media continues to be an increasingly important resource for employers in combating frivolous FMLA interference and retaliation charges by former employees. 

This week the Sixth Circuit issued an opinion in Jakubowski v. The Christ Hosp., Inc. affirming a district court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of the employer.  The plaintiff, Dr. Martin Jakubowski, was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a condition that severely impeded his ability to communicate with patients and co-workers. 

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