Many questions spring up for employers when an employee exhausts their FMLA leave but still can’t return to work. Are you required to give them more leave under the ADA? If so, how much additional leave is too much? Can you fire them for needing too much time off?
Employers have been faced with these questions a lot recently, and some answers are starting to emerge. This fall, it was the Seventh Circuit that decided (twice) that “a multi-month leave of absence is beyond the scope of a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.” More recently, the Eleventh Circuit came to the same decision.
But … while it may seem like a pro-employer pattern is emerging, additional ADA leave cases are still finding their way into the courtroom. Currently, the EEOC is suing the Blood Bank of Hawaii for firing three employees who were unable to return to work as soon as their FMLA leave ended instead of granting them more leave under the ADA. Is this case different than the others? Should a different outcome be expected?
When thinking about non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, it’s likely that images of narrow doorways or inaccessible public bathroom stalls come to mind. But that’s not where the list of potential violations end.
Specifically, websites have been interpreted to be “places of public accommodation” for purposes of the ADA, meaning that websites cannot discriminate against disabled individuals — even if the inaccessibility issue is completely unintended.
For example, a Florida federal judge recently handed down a trial verdict that Winn Dixie had violated Title III of the ADA by having a website that could not be used by a blind individual.
Closer to home, several dentists in Texas have been notified that their website is not in compliance with ADA guidelines because “the websites are not accessible to individuals with disabilities such as blindness or hearing impairment.
Private lawsuits and enforcement actions undertaken by the Department of Justice have highlighted that not all publicly available websites are ADA compliant because, among other things, they fail to incorporate screen reader technology.
Many community banks received letters from advocacy group Access Now alleging that the banks' websites violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for the visually impaired in provision of electronic information technology, including website, mobile apps, accessibility, online banking, mobile banking, ATM services, and telephone banking (collectively, Electronic Banking Services). These letters generally offered to resolve these alleged claims by working with Access Now's attorneys to bring the banks' websites into compliance with the ADA or face potential lawsuits.
Northern California Record
A disabled woman is suing a Fresno restaurant, alleging failure to uphold Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations.
Rachel Bryant filed a complaint Nov. 16 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California against Baoying Guan and Yi Lin Hu, doing business as Fresno New China, alleging they denied access to the physically disabled.
The special communication needs of deaf inmates are not always addressed, and the available resources are often unknown to facility owners. As a result, deaf individuals serving prison or jail terms are being denied access to the telephone network that they have constitutional and statutory rights to use, even in correctional facilities.
Casper Star-Tribune Online
A federal judge last week dismissed a lawsuit brought by a former Evansville public works employee alleging the town fired him due to his national origin and disability.
Roy Mestas alleged that his supervisor at the public works department called him and another Hispanic city worker a racial slur before eventually firing him.
Judge Nancy D. Freudenthal on Nov. 21 granted the town’s motion for summary judgement, which means the case was dismissed before it could go to trial.
Freudenthal wrote that Mestas’s claims of racial harassment did not indicate a hostile work environment and he did not show that he was retaliated against for reporting harassment at work.
The judge noted that Mestas recorded some conversations with his boss, but none included racial remarks. Mestas did not tell any city officials about the alleged harassment at the time.
Even if the claims are true, however, “they represent offhand comments and isolated incidents” which did not amount to a pattern, the judge wrote.
The judge likewise found that Mestas did not qualify for protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The holiday season is filled with travel as many families drive or fly to spend time with loved ones, but traveling with a disability can create unique challenges for some families.