Employment Law Alert

Employment Law Alert

News and Updates on Employment Law

Tag Archives: Reasonable Accommodation

U.S. Supreme Court Reinstates Pregnant Worker’s Discrimination Case

Posted in Discrimination
In Young v. UPS, the United States Supreme Court reinstated a UPS worker’s pregnancy discrimination lawsuit under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, finding that both the District Court and the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit had applied the wrong standard in upholding UPS’s light-duty-for-injury policy, under which the company refused a light-duty accommodation to a pregnant employee back in 2006. While the Court did not determine whether the employee suffered any actual discrimination, or whether UPS’s policy was impermissible under the PDA – those issues were remanded to the Fourth Circuit – the Court did adopt a modified version of the familiar burden-shifting framework of McDonnell Douglas for analyzing pregnancy discrimination claims under the PDA. The Court’s decision in Young is also noteworthy in that it declined to give deference to the EEOC’s July 2014 guidance on pregnancy discrimination, which we have previously discussed, and, in fact, rejected the argument that the PDA creates “an unconditional favored nations status” for pregnant workers.… Continue Reading

EEOC Issues Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination

Posted in Discrimination
On July 14, 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) — the agency responsible for the enforcement of federal anti-discrimination laws — issued Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues (“the Guidance”). The Guidance primarily discusses the requirements of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but also addresses additional federal laws that touch upon pregnancy and related conditions, including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).… Continue Reading

EEOC Issues Guidance Regarding Religious Dress and Grooming Practices

Posted in Discrimination
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) -- the federal agency responsible for the enforcement of federal anti-discrimination laws -- recently issued guidance on religious accommodation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), specifically focusing on religious dress and grooming practices. The publication, entitled “Religious Garb and Grooming in the Workplace: Rights and Responsibilities,” along with its accompanying Fact Sheet, are designed to assist employers to comply with their legal responsibilities under Title VII.… Continue Reading

EEOC Focusing on Telecommuting as a Reasonable Accommodation

Posted in Disability
The EEOC is heralding a recent decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Equal Opportunity Employment Commission v. Ford Motor Co., a case in which the agency brought suit on behalf of a Ford employee who alleged she was terminated in retaliation for filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. In her charge, the employee alleged Ford violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) by not allowing her to telecommute to work. The district court granted Ford’s motion for summary judgment, but, in a 2-to-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit reversed, finding that the EEOC had presented evidence sufficient to survive summary judgment that (a) by requesting to telecommute the employee had sought a reasonable accommodation for her disability and (b) the alternative accommodations offered by the company were insufficient. Of concern to employers is the little weight given by the majority opinion to the employer’s business judgment that the employee’s presence in the workplace was an essential function of her job. … Continue Reading

New York City Now Requires Reasonable Accommodation of Pregnant Employees

Posted in Disability
On October 2, 2013, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed into law Int. No. 974-2012A, amending the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) to prohibit discrimination in employment based on pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition. The law goes into effect on January 30, 2014. It prohibits an employer from refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation to the needs of an employee for her pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition that will allow the employee to perform the essential requisites of the job. According to the New York City Council's legislative findings accompanying the amendment, reasonable accommodations for an employee's pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition may include "bathroom breaks, leave for a period of disability arising from childbirth, breaks to facilitate increased water intake, periodic rest for those who stand for long periods of time, and assistance with manual labor."… Continue Reading

What to Expect from the EEOC in 2013

Posted in Discrimination
At the Gibbons Second Annual Employment & Labor Law Conference last month, one panel discussion focused on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's ("EEOC") recent activity and enforcement priorities. Among the panelists were Corrado Gigante, Director of the Newark Area Office of the EEOC, and Gibbons Directors, Christine Amalfe, Kelly Ann Bird and Susan Nardone.… Continue Reading

The New Jersey Appellate Division Holds that Requiring Self-Declared Alcoholics to Abstain From Alcohol Use and to Submit to Alcohol Testing Constitutes Handicap Discrimination in Employment

Posted in Disability
In a recent decision, A.D.P. v. ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company, the New Jersey Appellate Division held that an employer's drug and alcohol policy requiring recovering alcoholics to submit to periodic testing to determine whether they have used alcohol since returning to work after undergoing rehabilitation constitutes handicap discrimination in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 (the "LAD"). The decision presumably applies as well to recovering drug addicts. Employers with alcohol and drug policies should immediately evaluate and, if necessary, modify them in light of the Court's decision.… Continue Reading

John C. Romeo and Kelly Ann Bird to Speak at Upcoming NJBIA Employment Seminars

Posted in Uncategorized
John C. Romeo and Kelly Ann Bird, Directors in the Gibbons Employment & Labor Law Department, will be speaking at upcoming programs that are part of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association's Employment Seminar Series. John C. Romeo, will speak at the event, "HR101: An Employment Law and HR Primer," on the "Review of Key Employment Laws," on Wednesday, November 28, 2012, at Forsgate Country Club. On Friday, November 30, 2012, Kelly Ann Bird will speak at the "How to Comply with State & Federal Family & Disability Leave Laws" program at the Wilshire Grand Hotel.… Continue Reading

EEOC v. United Airlines, Part II — Denying a Disabled Employee’s Request to Fill a Vacant Position as an Accommodation Because More Qualified Candidates are Available Remains Problematic Under the ADA

Posted in Disability
Four months ago we reported on the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upholding United Airlines' position in a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that United did not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by its policy of filling vacant positions with the most qualified candidate even though another employee, unable to perform his own job because of a disability, had applied for the vacant position as a reasonable accommodation. The three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit that issued that decision has now vacated its opinion and has decided the case in favor of the EEOC. The panel's reversal of its position is not that surprising. The panel originally ruled in favor of United because it felt bound by a Seventh Circuit ruling in a similar case decided in 2000, EEOC v. Humiston-Keeling. The panel, however, questioned that earlier decision in light of the Supreme Court's 2002 decision in US Airways, Inc. v. Barnett and thus recommended that the issue be considered by the court en banc (i.e. by the entire membership of the Seventh Circuit). The EEOC promptly moved for reconsideration en banc. Each member of the court expressed the view that EEOC v. Humiston-Keeling should be overruled and, in lieu of formally rehearing the case en banc, simply directed the original panel to vacate its decision and issue a new opinion.… Continue Reading

Third Circuit Rules That Employers Need Not Accommodate Work Restrictions at End of FMLA Leave

Posted in Family Leave
Are employers required to provide reasonable accommodations to an employee to facilitate his or her return to the same or equivalent position at the conclusion of an FMLA leave? According to a recent decision from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the answer is no, provided the employee is unable to perform the essential functions of his job position. The case, Macfarlan v. Ivy Hill, provides important guidance for employers who must make such determinations upon an employee's return from FMLA-protected leave.… Continue Reading

Denying a Disabled Employee’s Request to Fill a Vacant Position as an Accommodation Because More Qualified Candidates are Available Remains Problematic Under the ADA

Posted in Disability
Are employers obligated, as a reasonable accommodation, to fill a vacant position with an employee whose disability renders him unable to perform his own job when other candidates for the vacant position are more qualified? The position of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that employers have that obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was recently rejected by a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. But the panel took the unusual step of recommending that the issue be considered by the court en banc (i.e. by the entire membership of the Seventh Circuit). In the great majority of circuits, the issue remains unsettled, and employers must tread carefully when responding to such accommodation requests.… Continue Reading

Reasonable Accommodation May Include Assisting Employee’s Commute to Work, Holds 2nd Circuit

Posted in Disability
Joining a growing number of jurisdictions, including the Third and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, covering the states of New York, Connecticut and Vermont, has held that under certain circumstances, an employer may be required to assist disabled employees with their commute to work as a reasonable accommodation under both the Americans with Disabilities Act("ADA") and the Rehabilitation Act. The Court's decision in Nixon-Tinkelman v. N.Y. Dep't of Health & Mental Hygiene highlights an employer's obligation to consider reasonable accommodations requested by employees with disability-related commuting problems.… Continue Reading

Employers Must Accommodate Deviation from Dress Code When Based on Religion

Posted in Policies/Handbooks
The importance of making reasonable accommodations to workplace dress codes based on an employee's religious practices was the focus of a recent settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Essex County, New Jersey. According to the Complaint filed by the DOJ in United States of America v. Essex County, New Jersey, Yvette Beshier, a Muslim corrections officer, was suspended and then terminated because the religious head scarf she wore violated the Essex County Department of Correction's uniform policy. The DOJ alleged that Essex County's treatment of Beshier constituted religious discrimination in violation of Tile VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act because it failed to accommodate her religious beliefs.… Continue Reading

Cancer in Remission is Disability under the ADAAA

Posted in Disability
In holding that an employee with cancer in remission is "disabled" under the expanded definition of "disability" in the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act ("ADAAA"), a federal court has signaled a major change in the way courts have considered cases involving diseases that are in remission. The case is among the first in the nation to interpret the extent to which the Act broadens the scope of the conditions that may qualify as a "disability." Specifically, the court addressed that portion of the ADAAA that defines "disability" to include "an impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active."… Continue Reading