On April 22, 2014, the Sixth Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of an ADA case against Ford Motor Company, finding that there was a fact issue as to whether telecommuting most days is a reasonable accommodation. In EEOC v. Ford Motor Company (No. 12-2484), the court addressed an increasingly common, yet persistently difficult, question:  when must employees be allowed to work remotely, and when is physical, in-person attendance an essential function of a job?


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More than three years after first announcing that it was considering issuing regulations applying the Americans with Disabilities Act to websites, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) appears on the verge of announcing its proposed rules for website accessibility. While the DOJ originally stated that it anticipated issuing its Title II website accessibility rules for

With the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (“ADAAA”) and its expansion of the definition of “disability,” some would argue that the focus should no longer be on whether someone meets the definition of a “disability.” The presumption being that it is much easier now to prove someone is “disabled” under the law. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has recently issued a ruling contracting this assumption.
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A new case under the amended American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) may add to employers’ confusion over how to handle medical and disability issues.   Butler v. Louisiana Dep’t of Pub. Safety & Corr., No. 3:12-cv-000420 (M.D. La. 2013).  In Butler, a state trooper alleged he was “regarded as” disabled by his employer, who allegedly thought he had obsessive compulsive disorder and germaphobia.  He claimed he was placed on involuntary leave, subjected to an excessive fitness-for-duty exam, and denied overtime opportunities.  The defendant employer denied the allegations and asserted the “direct threat” defense.  It sought discovery of the plaintiff’s psychiatric records and moved to compel production when the employee objected to the requests.  The court denied the motion to compel and made several interesting pronouncements.


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For 60 years psychiatrists and other mental health professionals have been using the American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM) as the “bible” for diagnosing mental diseases and disorders.  Health and disability insurance providers  use the DSM in deciding what conditions and treatments to cover, as do government agencies in determining eligibility for benefits and services.  These and other factors make the DSM an unusually powerful document.

The latest DSM revision (the DSM-5) is set for release later this month.   It creates several new mental disorders and broadens the definition of a number of existing ones.  These changes will affect employers in a variety of ways, from expanded protection under the ADA and FMLA to increased benefit costs.  


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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) announced that it won what it describes as a “historic” verdict last week when an Iowa federal jury awarded $240 million to a group of intellectually disabled plant workers who were subjected to disability-based discrimination and harassment.  The award is the largest in the agency’s history.  The EEOC’s General Counsel, David Lopez, remarked that the verdict is “one of the EEOC’s finest moments in its ongoing efforts to combat employment discrimination.”


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We live in a society that is obsessed with appearance, and studies show that many people equate appearance to success.  While employers may not be aware of these studies, some are trying to control appearance in the workplace by imposing weight restrictions on job applicants or employees as a condition of employment.  

Whether these policies

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania held recently that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s “pattern and practice” disability discrimination claims are subject to a 300-day limitations period, furthering a pronounced split among federal district courts on the issue.  In the case, the EEOC took the position that its pattern or practice claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act were not subject to the limitations period, or, in the alternative, that the employer’s violations constituted a “continuous violation” and the EEOC’s claims were, thus, exempt from the 300-day limitations period.  The court, however, agreed with the employer’s position that the EEOC’s claims were subject to the limitations period based upon the plain language of the statute.  The decision holds the EEOC subject to the same limitations period applicable to individual claimants in any Title VII context.


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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Once an employer becomes aware of an employee’s disability, the ADA requires the employer to provide a “reasonable accommodation” to enable the employee to perform the essential functions of his or her job.  While the type of reasonable accommodation required can vary greatly depending on an employee’s disability and essential job functions, it was not until recently that a court found that permitting an employee to work in natural light can be a reasonable accommodation.


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On May 21, 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held in a split decision that the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) does not bar discrimination based on marijuana use unless that use is authorized under federal law.  In James v. City of Costa Mesa, No. 10–55769, the court held that even marijuana use under a doctor’s supervision in accordance with state law was not protected under the ADA.  The court held that the ADA excludes illegal drug users from its definition of qualified individuals with a disability.  Although generally-applicable California drug laws carve out an exception for uses of marijuana for medical purposes under doctor supervision, there are no such exceptions to the federal Controlled Substances Act.  Since the ADA defines “illegal drug use” by reference to federal law, and the federal law does not authorize marijuana use for medical purposes, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that discrimination in the provision of public services based on marijuana use was not prohibited by the ADA.


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