ADA in the News: April 11, 2018

Multimonth ADA Leave Isn't Required in the 7th Circuit


The appeals courts will remain divided over whether the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires multimonth leave: The Supreme Court has declined to review a 7th Circuit decision that the ADA doesn't require employers to allow workers with disabilities to be off the job for two months or more.

As a result of the Supreme Court's April 2 order, it is now clear within the 7th Circuit that employees who need two or more months of ADA leave before they can return to work are not qualified individuals with disabilities protected by the law, said David McClurg, an attorney with Petrie + Pettit in Milwaukee. McClurg represented the defendant employer in the case, Severson v. Heartland Woodcraft Inc. The 7th Circuit covers Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

Other appeals courts haven't reached the same conclusion as the 7th Circuit, which is why David Fram, director of ADA and equal employment opportunity services with the National Employment Law Institute in Golden, Colo., said he thinks it would be "a huge mistake for employers outside the 7th Circuit to follow Severson." Fram said that the decision is "inconsistent with virtually all of the other courts and certainly is inconsistent with what the EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] has said."

However, McClurg said that the Supreme Court's choice not to review the decision will provide strong support for arguments by employers in other circuits that multimonth leaves are not reasonable accommodations and that employees unable to work for such long periods are not qualified individuals with disabilities protected by the ADA.

The Seventh Circuit Just Made It Harder for People With Medical Conditions to Keep Their Jobs

Rewire News

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case of Severson v. Heartland Woodcraft, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decision that narrowed the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Since the Supreme Court has refused to hear the case, the decision of the lower court stands—significantly restricting the protections employees can expect when they are temporarily unable to work thanks to an illness or injury.

Employers Left in the Dark After US Supreme Court Declines to Issue Ruling on Long Term Leave as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA


Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals holding that a multi-month leave of absence is beyond the scope of a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The plaintiff in Severson v. Heartland Woodcraft, Inc. had asked the Supreme Court to decide whether there is a per se rule that a finite leave of absence of more than one month cannot be a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. Without the Supreme Court stepping in to resolve the split among the federal circuit courts, employers are left without clear guidance as to how to navigate the interplay between the ADA and extended leaves of absence.

Delaware employers adapt to impact of opioid epidemic

Delaware Business Times

Marian Young remembers how surprised she was when a colleague informed her that the construction industry was second only to hospitality in the amount of workplace substance abuse.

“I had no idea,” said Young, president and co-founder of BrightFields Inc., a full-service environmental consulting firm in Wilmington. “This is the sort of issue where you can’t get up to speed fast enough.”

That bit of knowledge prompted Young to beef up her drug-testing policies ahead of state-mandated requirements and introduce a user-friendly support program to help employees with substance-abuse issues get healthy and ensure that healthy employees remain that way.

The misuse and addiction to opioids is a national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. Every day, more than 115 people die after overdosing on opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Delaware, drug overdose deaths first exceeded motor vehicle fatalities in 2009 and have been climbing ever since, according to figures from the state Division of Public Health. In 2016, 308 deaths were attributed to drug overdose, compared to 228 the previous year.

“Delaware, like the nation, is facing one of the greatest public-health crises of our generation,” said Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, who chairs Delaware’s Behavioral Health Consortium.

IMGMA Q​/A: Service Animals

JD Supra

Question: What are “Service Animals”, and to what extent (i) must they be allowed on health care facility premises, and (ii) can they be refused or removed from premises?

Advocate​s May Sue Mass. Prisons Over Refusal To Provide Addiction Meds


Advocates for those incarcerated in Massachusetts are considering filing suit because state correctional facilities do not provide addiction medications — even to those involuntarily committed to addiction treatment.

The potential litigation would focus on whether the Massachusetts Department of Correction is violating the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Does D​OT's Rule Allowing Drivers to Park in Front of Curb Ramps Violate Accessibility Laws?

Streetsblog New York (blog)

Pandering to car owners, former City Council member Vincent Gentile prompted DOT to seize spaces in front of sidewalk ramps for parking. The rule may violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws.

Subw​ay station closures on UWS spark protests calling for ADA upgrades


Elected officials and advocacy groups protested the next round of long-term subway station closures on the Upper West Side on Monday, calling out the MTA for failing to improve accessibility or properly alert the public ahead of the outages.

The months-long closures — part of the transit authority’s controversial Enhanced Station Initiative to renovate and rehabilitate stations — began Monday at the 110th Street station of the B and C lines. The 72nd and 86th street stations of the lines are also slated to close as part of the renovations on May 7 and June 4, respectively. The 110th Street station will reopen sometime in September, with 72nd and 86th Street stations reopening in October.

It was just the latest protest around the Enhanced Station Initiative. Advocates have criticized the program for months, arguing that it focuses on cosmetic repairs, tiling, lighting and art work without bringing stations up to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

W​almart ranks high on disability equality index

Insight News

The U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) announced the results of the 2016 Disability Equality Index (DEI) survey, with Walmart making the list.

The DEI was completed by 83 Fortune 1000-size companies, two-thirds of these companies top the Fortune 500 list. Twenty-three business segments were represented and the industries that had the highest number of participants included aerospace and defense, energy and utilities, financial services, healthcare, insurance, pharmaceuticals, professional services, retail and telecommunications.

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