Although the World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern,” it has not yet declared the outbreak as a pandemic. Nevertheless, the emergence of the latest coronavirus is an opportunity for employers, as it reminds them to consider policies and procedures related to pandemic planning.
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For the past few years, retailers have been confronted with a tidal wave of litigation alleging that their websites are inaccessible in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Indeed, in 2018 alone, one analysis determined that there were at least 2,258 web accessibility cases filed in federal court, a 177 percent increase from the previous year.
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The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case on October 8 that likely would have clarified the scope of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act related to the operation of virtual platforms like websites and applications by private businesses.
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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a District Court’s ruling in favor of employer Medtronic, Inc. in a lawsuit alleging Medtronic unlawfully terminated employee Jose Valtierra’s employment because he was morbidly obese, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  In doing so, the Court declined to decide whether morbid obesity is a disability, leaving this issue unsettled in the Ninth Circuit.
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The Americans with Disabilities Act has been the source of a tremendous amount of litigation since President George H.W. Bush signed it into law in 1990.  Over the past few years, Plaintiffs’ counsel have developed a cottage industry of sorts by filing thousands of lawsuits alleging that company websites are not accessible to the blind or visually impaired, in violation of Title III of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in “places of public accommodation.”
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The opioid epidemic is causing employers to consider the best ways to ensure a safe workplace, but companies should be careful when addressing employees’ prescription drug use.  Recent court filings and settlements by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission illustrate the potential pitfalls employers face when attempting to implement a drug-free workplace.
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As website accessibility lawsuits continue to surge, places of public accommodation oftentimes battle multiple lawsuits filed by different plaintiffs represented by different attorneys.  Even after entering into private settlements, which include detailed website remediation plans, defendants may continue to be the target of these lawsuits by copycat plaintiffs. 
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