Just last week I posted an article discussing what sort of information an individual needs to give to their employer when they are suffering from a medical issue. In that article, I noted that many employers request very broad releases, sometimes requesting access to any and all medical information on the employee. Well this week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed suit against a Minnesota company for this exact issue! (hat tip to the Employer Handbook for pointing out the press release) Hit the jump for the details… Continue reading
Category Archives: Americans with Disabilities Act
When medical issues affect your work life it is natural to want to keep your health information as private as possible. Often, employers will request that the individual sign an incredibly broad release that would grant them access to basically all of an individual’s health information which is far beyond what the law requires. However, when deciding what information to share with your employer, bear in mind that there are some minimum standards of disclosure that must be met in order to claim protection under federal law. This post will examine two cases, one under the Family Medical Leave Act and one under the Americans with Disabilities Act, where an individual shared information but the courts decided it wasn’t enough. Fortunately, in most situations there is a balance that can be achieved between protecting your information and protecting your job. Continue reading
When an individual is suffering from a disability, as defined in the American’s with Disabilities Act, their employer is required to work with them to find a reasonable accommodation that would allow them to complete all of the “essential duties” of their job. If the individual cannot complete all of the essential duties then they could be terminated even though they have a disability. Therefore, determining what qualifies as “essential” is a crucial step in the accommodation process.
While courts will generally look to a number of sources to determine what duties are essential to any given job (job descriptions, time sheets, etc.), there are some aspects of work that are nearly always considered to be essential. Attendance at work is one of these aspects that courts will almost always accept as being “essential” without much further analysis. However, a recent decision from a federal court in Indiana shows that courts may be willing to analyze how essential attendance is on a case-by-case basis. See E.E.O.C. v. AT&T Co., Case No. 1:12-cv-00402-TWP-DKL (S.D. Ind., Nov. 20, 2013). This case could be useful for anyone whose disability affects their ability to routinely attend work. Continue reading
Most of the people that I work with are aware that the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows employees to request modifications to their employment so that they an continue to work. However, often they are less clear on what sort of modifications they can request and what work responsibilities they must still be able to complete. A trio of recent cases demonstrate why it is important to make your request for accommodations as broad and all-encompassing as possible… Continue reading
Individuals with mental disorders face unique difficulties when it comes to seeking the protections and benefits of the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA). The definition of “disability” under the ADA explicitly includes “mental impairments” that substantially limit one or more major life activities but it can be much harder for someone suffering from a mental illness to demonstrate such a limitation. If you add in employer skepticism and the general cultural stigma in relation to mental illness, you begin to see the additional challenges confronting individuals with mental disabilities. However, a recent case from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals provides a good example of what protections these individuals can receive to protect their employment. See McMillan v. City of New York, 711 F.3d 120 (2d Cir. 2013).
Hit the jump for all the details… Continue reading
Even though the Family Medical Leave Act officially turned 20 years old last month there continue to be issues requiring clarification from the courts and the Department of Labor. Most recently, the DoL issued some administrative guidance on FMLA leave for adult children. The FMLA provides time off to care for children who are either under 18 years of age or who are older than 18 and are “incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.” Unfortunately, this definition left a number of open questions, such as, is the FMLA definition of disability the same as the Americans with Disabilities Act definition? does it matter when the disability began? and what is the intersection of “serious health condition” under the FMLA and “disability” under the ADA?
Before moving on, I just want to take a moment, yet again, to advertise the FMLA video I put together. If you are not familiar with the basic requirements, check out that video and then come back for more information on this complicated topic.
For all the nitty-gritty of the DoL guidance, hit the jump… Continue reading
While many employees are aware that they are guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid leave for serious health conditions under the Family Medical Leave Act (and if they aren’t aware, they should get acquainted with the FMLA), they may not be aware that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may be able to provide additional leave to individuals with disabilities. The ADA requires that employers provide employees with “reasonable accommodations” and courts have found that unpaid leave may be reasonable in certain circumstances. The biggest question has been determining when the duration of leave goes from “reasonable” to become an “undue burden” that the employer need no longer provide. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a recent decision that examines the outer limits of leave as an ADA accommodation (and also demonstrates the power that a good union representative can have). See Bimberg v. Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker Sch., 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 1357 (6th Cir. Jan 17, 2013) (pdf available here).
Hit the jump for the “she wanted how much leave??” moment… Continue reading
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to provide employees with reasonable accommodations that allow the employees to complete the essential functions of their job so long as the accommodation does not create an undue hardship on the employer. Determining what sorts of accommodations might work for an individual is supposed to occur through an “interactive process” of dialogue between the employee and employer, with each side proposing potential adjustments and both sides commenting in an attempt to find a solution. A recent case from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals shows just how important that dialogue is. See Keith v. County of Oakland, No. 11-2276 (6th Cir. Jan. 10, 2012).
Analysis of this intriguing case (spoiler alert – it is about a deaf individual who wants to be a lifeguard), after the jump… Continue reading