In a previous post, we discussed the Second Circuit’s opinion finding that Rite-Aid lawfully fired a long-tenured pharmacist after he refused to comply with the company’s new mandate that pharmacists administer immunizations.  The plaintiff requested that the Second Circuit rehear the case, arguing that it should consider additional evidence.  Without discussion, the Second Circuit denied the plaintiff’s request, upholding its prior decision.  The pharmacist was not protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act because he could not perform an essential function of the job—administering immunizations—and there were no accommodations that would have permitted him to perform that function.

The Second Circuit recently held that Rite-Aid lawfully fired a long-tenured pharmacist after he refused to comply with the company’s new mandate that pharmacists administer immunizations.  The Court’s decision overturned a jury verdict of $2.6 million in the pharmacist’s favor and reminds employers what it takes to show that a given function is “essential” and what accommodations are reasonable.  The former pharmacist had claimed Rite-Aid illegally discharged and retaliated against him, and refused to accommodate his disability—trypanophobia, or needle phobia—under the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar state law.

Continue Reading Second Circuit Says Firing Disabled Worker Was Lawful

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws which decriminalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.  Under those statutory schemes, individuals with qualified medical conditions may become registered cardholders and obtain cannabis for medical purposes, often from state-regulated dispensaries.  These developments present an array of new challenges for employers to navigate.

Continue Reading Anti-Discrimination Provisions in State Medical Marijuana Laws Raise Additional Considerations for Workplace Drug Testing

In Enforcement Guidance issued last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took the position that employers should accommodate the physical restrictions of women with normal, uncomplicated pregnancies as if those women had protected disabilities.

Continue Reading EEOC Issues Pregnancy Discrimination Guidelines Despite Pending High Court Case

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.

Continue Reading Disability Still Matters in ADA Claims

On October 2, 2013, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed into law an amendment to the city’s Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”), expanding the scope of the pregnancy discrimination protections provided under the law.  Although discrimination on the basis of an employee’s pregnancy has long been prohibited under the NYCHRL, as well as under state and federal law, the new amendment makes it unlawful for an employer to refuse to reasonably accommodate “the needs of an employee for her pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.” 

Continue Reading NYC Expands Human Rights Law to Require Employers to Reasonably Accommodate Pregnant Workers

On September 24, 2013, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) published two rules that impose new affirmative action obligations toward veterans and individuals with disabilities. These rules, issued under VEVRAA (Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act) and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, create significant new burdens for covered federal contractors and subcontractors.

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On September 24, 2013, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) published two rules that impose new affirmative action obligations for veterans and individuals with disabilities.  These rules, issued under VEVRAA  (Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act) and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, create significant new burdens for covered federal contractors and subcontractors. 

Continue Reading OFCCP Publishes New Rules for Veterans/Disabled – Effective March 2014

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.

Continue Reading District Court Rules Actual Disability Not Relevant To “Regarded As” Claim