Category: ADA

Cat’s Paw Theory: Can a Company be held liable if the discriminating supervisor and the individual(s) who made the decision to terminate are different?

Traditional discrimination or retaliation claims involves the employer taking the discriminatory or retaliatory action. Often times companies will try to create an independent process for terminating an employee to avoid liability. For example: an employee receives several disciplinary write-ups. After a certain amount of write-ups, Human Resources becomes involved. At large companies, the HR Representative may have never met the individual. After review the write-ups, HR determines to terminate the individual. Companies then argue, how could the termination be discriminatory or retaliatory if the individual making the decision has never even met the employee being terminated? Clever. But so are Judges.
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What Medical Exams and Inquiries can an Employer make of an Employee under the ADA?

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) restricts an employer’s ability to make disability-related inquiries or require medical examinations. The laws and rules depend on the stage of the relationship: pre-offer, post-offer but pre-employment, and during employment. This post relates to medical inquiries and examinations of an employee during employment.
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Can weight or obesity be a protected class or a disability? Sometimes, under the ADA.

Discriminating against or terminating an employee because he or she is overweight is generally not unlawful. Weight is not a protected class under Title VII, however, weight can be a characteristic of a medical condition. Thus, in certain situations taking an adverse job action against an employee based on his or weight (too heavy or too thin) can be a violation of the ADA. The Amendments Act to the ADA provides an expansive definition of medical conditions that render a person disabled under the law. An individual must be able to perform the essential functions of his or her job with or without a reasonable accommodation. If a medical condition causes an increase or decrease in weight, but you are still able to perform your job with or with accommodation, an employer’s adverse job action taken against you due to your weight violates the ADA. Make sure your employer understands that you have a medical condition and that you request an accommodation, if necessary.
Continue reading “Can weight or obesity be a protected class or a disability? Sometimes, under the ADA.”

Is your Leave going to exceed the 12 weeks provided by FMLA? You could still be protected under the ADA.

It is common scenario where an employee’s leave of absence for a serious medical condition exceeds the 12 weeks provided for by the Family Medical Leave Act. So what can an employee do in this situation? An employee can request an extended leave of absence as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (Remember: it is the employees burden to request a reasonable accommodation). This request then shifts the burden to the employer to show that an extended leave would cause “undue hardship.” Read the full article on Extended Leave under the FMLA and ADA.

For more information on the ADA, reasonable accommodations, and what constitutes undue hardship, check out the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ADA fact sheet.

When is Third Party Retaliation an Actionable Claim?

The Supreme Court has held that an employer can be found liable for terminating an employee when that employee’s fiance has engaged in a protected activity (Opposing discrimination, complaining about harassment, etc.) under Title VII (Discrimination). So what relationship needs to exist between the Third Party and the individual engaging in the protective activity to have an actionable claim? The Supreme Court has provided a factor test: Justice Scalia suggests that there are two factors that determine whether third-party retaliation is unlawful under Title VII: 1. The nature of the relationship; and 2. The severity of the employer’s action. Thus, he states: “We expect that firing a close family member will almost always meet the Burlington standard, and inflicting a milder reprisal on a mere acquaintance will almost never do so.” Read more on Unlawful Third Party Retaliation.

Employer Requiring No Restrictions or To Be “100% Healed” before Returning to Work?

Is your employer requiring you to be 100% or requiring your doctor to release you back to work with no restrictions? This article deals with the potential legal violations associated with such requirements. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act only requires you to be qualified. Qualified is defined as able to perform the essential functions of your job with or without a reasonable accommodation. Therefore, if you have restrictions but are able to perform your job with an accommodation, you are entitled to work. For other examples, Read the Full Article Here.