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.”

The Department of Labor issues 16-page FMLA guide.

The 16-page FMLA guide that the Department of Labor (DOL) says is “designed to answer common FMLA questions and clarify who can take FMLA leave and what protections the FMLA provides.” Entitled “Need Time? The Employee’s Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act,” the Guide apparently was created out of DOL’s belief that “too many workers don’t know about their rights under the FMLA and fail to take advantage of its protections,” as stated in a DOL press release. For more information on the guide, visit the DOL website.

View and download the FMLA Guide

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.

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: Proposed Bill Extends Protection for Pregnant Women

Currently, pregnant women are a protected class under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an Amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The new bill would extend protection to female employees with pregnancy-related work limitations, forcing employers to make reasonable accommodations and preventing them from terminating pregnant women due to inhibited performance. For more information related to Pregnancy Discrimination and the proposed law visit these links:
Pregnancy Discrimination Act (Current Law)
Facts on the Pregnancy Discrimination Act
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: Proposed Language
New York Times Article on Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

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.

Statute of Limitations Tolled During Time Motion for Conditional Certification Pending

In a recent case, a federal Court has held the Statute of Limitations tolled while a Motion for Class Certification is pending. Unlike the filing of a Class Action under Rule 23, the filing of a Collective Action does not toll the Statute of Limitations. Therefore, the 2 year (or 3 year if willful) statute of limitations continues to run and unpaid overtime or other violations may “fall off” until the Court tolls the Statute of Limitation or, as this Colorado Court held, a motion for Conditional Certification is filed. Read the Full Article Here.

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.