The Gibbons Employment & Labor Department, and three of its attorneys, were among the 10 Gibbons practice areas and 20 individual attorneys ranked in the 2012 edition of the Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. Chambers annually rates the nation’s leading business lawyers and law firms through comprehensive interviews with top companies, attorneys, and business executives, plus extensive supplementary research.
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
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.
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.
The 2011 edition of the Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business features 10 Gibbons practice areas and 18 individual attorneys ranked in the top tiers. The firm’s Employment and Labor Law Department and two of its attorneys in this area were ranked among the leaders in the state. Chambers annually rates the nation’s leading business lawyers and law firms through comprehensive interviews with top companies, attorneys, and business executives, plus extensive supplementary research.
Amendments to the Regulations Implementing Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Amendments to the regulations implementing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 28 CFR 35.101 et seq., which applies to public entities, went into effect on March 15, 2011. A public entity is defined in the regulations as: “(1) Any state or local government; (2) Any department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a State or States or local government; and (3) The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, and any commuter authority (as defined in section 103(8) of the Rail Passenger Service Act).” See 28 CFR 35.104. On the same date, amendments to the regulations implementing Title III of the ADA, 28 CFR 36.101 et seq., which applies to public accommodations (including private businesses that fall within one of twelve categories established by the statute) and commercial facilities also went into effect.
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.”