By John P. Phillips

Seyfarth Synopsis: Complying with the ADA, particularly when an employee has a mental health-related disability, can be challenging. Fortunately, a recent decision out of the Seventh Circuit provides helpful guidance for employers struggling to accommodate employees with mental health issues while at the same time maintaining safe and productive workplaces. The decision makes clear that in
Continue Reading Rock and a [Softer] Hard Place: Seventh Circuit Eases the Burden for Accommodating Employees with Mental Health Disabilities

By Erin Dougherty Foley, Ashley K. Laken, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: According to the EEOC in this just filed lawsuit, a home care services provider in North Carolina violated federal disability rights law when it rejected telecommuting requests from an employee whose asthma and COPD “made her sensitive to workplace smells.” 

Earlier this month, the
Continue Reading Watch Out: Workplace Smells, ADA Disability, Telecommuting, and an EEOC Lawsuit

By Anne S. Bider, Robert A. Fisher, and James M. Hlawek

Seyfarth Synopsis: On February 5, 2017, in M.C.A.D. v. Country Bank for Savings, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (“MCAD”) held that an employer engaged in unlawful disability discrimination when it terminated an employee whose medical leave had ended and who could not provide a definite return to
Continue Reading “I’ll Be Back To Work Soon”: Massachusetts Addresses An Employer’s Obligations When Employee On Leave Gives An Indefinite Return Date

By Annette Tyman and Michael L. Childers

Seyfarth Synopsis: Federal Contractors should immediately update the Disability Self-ID Form to include the new expiration date.  The OFCCP is allowing a 10-day grace period, until February 10th to update the form.

Last week we updated contractors on OMB’s renewal of the disability self-identification form (see post here).  Note that there were
Continue Reading Additional Information for Implementing the Renewed Disability Self-ID Form

By Johanna T. Wise and Ryan L. Behndleman

Seyfarth Synopsis: Do employers have to let employees sleep on the job as a reasonable accommodation for a disability? While far from being decided, a recent federal case in the Southern District of New York addresses the issue.

Let’s face it, we all get tired from time to time. While
Continue Reading Don’t Lose Sleep Over It…Yet

By Pamela Quigley Devata, Paul Kehoe, and Craig B. Simonsen

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have just announced two short guides on employment background checks: Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know and Background Checks: What Job Applicants and Employees Should Know.  The documents were not subject to Commissioner review
Continue Reading FTC and EEOC Publish Guide for Employers on Background Checks in Hiring

By Lawrence P. Postol

Before Congress passed the 2008 Amendments to the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”), courts generally held temporary disabilities were not covered by the ADA.  Thus, if an employee had a temporary condition such as a broken leg or acute bronchitis, employers after the 12 weeks of  Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) leave ended, often required employees
Continue Reading Temporary Disabilities – No Need To Worry About The ADA, Right? Think Again

By Natascha B. Riesco

It may soon be easier for obese plaintiffs to claim disability discrimination.  The American Medical Association (AMA) recently declared obesity as a “disease,” which may have supersized implications for employers as they deal with reasonable accommodation requests and disability discrimination claims from overweight employees.  So is obesity a disability?  Can employers defend these claims on the
Continue Reading Obesity is a Disability. Wait: Is Obesity a Disability?

By Johanna T. Wise and Kevin A. Fritz

Since its historic passage in 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”) has taken a wild drive down the Interpretation Highway. As our travels have shown, when employees claim discrimination under the ADA, they must prove (among other things) that the employer failed to make a reasonable accommodation based on the employees’ known limitations. In a recent Fifth Circuit decision, however, the court took an unexpected detour and (potentially) paved a new road in the accommodation process. 

In Feist v. Louisiana, the plaintiff claimed she was discriminated against when her employer failed to grant her request for a free, reserved, on-site parking space to accommodate her disability: osteoarthritis of the knee. The plaintiff claimed her request was a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. The employer said it was not, and the lower court agreed. It held that the plaintiff would only be eligible for such a spot if she could show the reserved space was an essential function of the position. 

Now, we’ve been down this road many times and we’ve never seen “parking spot” in the “essential function” portion of a job description. And based on the lower court’s reasoning, an accommodation outside of the essential functions of a position would never be required by an employer. But the Fifth Circuit disagreed and reversed that decision. It held that the ADA does not require a link between a requested accommodation and an essential job function.
Continue Reading A Parking Spot as a Reasonable Accommodation? Well…Maybe So.

By: Beth Gobeille Foley

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court altered the state’s disability law landscape today with a narrowly tailored decision allowing some — but not all — claims of associational disability discrimination to proceed under the state’s anti-discrimination law, M.G.L. ch. 151B, § 4(16) (“Chapter 151B”).

In Flagg v. AliMed, a plaintiff brought suit against his former employer,
Continue Reading Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Recognizes Associational Disability Discrimination Under Massachusetts Law