ADA in the News: July 14, 2014

DFEH v. LSAC Notice & Compensation Fund Information – information regarding the LSAC nationwide compensation fund, including how to submit a claim and how to contact the Claims Administrator, can be found in the attached notice and at www.LSACconsentdecree.com
 
 Reasonable Accommodation Issues for Disabled Employees
Reston Now
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and its amendments, requires employers to engage in a good-faith interactive process with employees who request a reasonable accommodation for their medical issues and disabilities. The interactive process is a collaborative effort by which the employer and employee informally discuss and identify the precise medical limitations of the employee and accommodations that the employer could potentially make to help the employee overcome these limitations.
 
Eleventh Circuit says “no” to drunk driving
Lexology
Of the issues arising under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), few are more nuanced and complex than an employer’s rights and responsibilities regarding employees with an alcohol addiction or dependence.  Commercial truck drivers present a unique issue as companies that employ drivers to spend long hours on the road present safety concerns that are not present in all industries.  Yet, such companies are not exempt from the requirements of the ADA (and similar state and city laws) that prohibit discrimination against an employee who is a “qualified individual with a disability.”
 Disability nonprofit discriminated against deaf employee, suit alleges
The Detroit News
A federal suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims Disability Network Wayne County violated the law when the company refused “to provide a reasonable accommodation to Steven Jeffries, who is deaf, and by firing him on the basis of his disability.”
 
EEOC Roundup: April 2014
JD Supra
Disability Discrimination
An oil services company will pay $65,000 in damages to resolve violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for failing to make a good-faith effort to accommodate a disabled employee. According to the EEOC lawsuit, the company ignored the ADA's mandate to evaluate accommodation options for employees with disabilities when it fired an employee upon discovering he had diabetes.
An optical store agreed to settle a disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the EEOC for denying an optician's reasonable accommodation request to bring her service dog to work to help with her generalized anxiety disorder. The service dog would have allowed the optician to continue performing her duties by alerting her to oncoming panic attacks, alleviating symptoms during such attacks and assisting with other tasks. The optician was increasingly disciplined and ultimately terminated because of her disability in retaliation for her request. The optical store agreed to pay $53,000 in damages and furnish other relief to settle the charges.
A healthcare provider who terminated an employee suffering from Usher's syndrome — a genetic disorder that results in varying levels of vision and hearing loss — agreed to pay $180,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle the resulting lawsuit. The EEOC charged that the employer was required — absent proof of undue hardship — to reassign the employee to a vacant position as a reasonable accommodation for her disabilities. Furthermore, after terminating the employee from her existing position, the healthcare system refused to rehire her to a different, open position both because of its perception of her disability, and in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge with the EEOC.
A consulting business agreed to pay $100,000 to a former employee fired because the company assumed that the employee's retinitis pigmentosa impaired his vision and interfered with his new driving-related job duties. The company is charged with violating the ADA by failing to determine if a reasonable accommodation would allow the otherwise qualified employee to carry out his duties despite his impairment.
A company agreed to pay $80,000 for violating the ADA by refusing to hire a qualified applicant with prostate cancer because, according to the testimony of a former employee, the company owner felt the applicant would "end up wearing diapers."
The EEOC won summary judgment in a case against a manufacturing company accused of violating the ADA by withdrawing a job offer based on the erroneous assumption that an applicant was disabled by an old back injury. Despite the fact that the applicant was in good health at the time of his application, and a recent medical examination showed no physical limitations on his ability to perform his job, the employer insisted the applicant provide a medical release for successful back surgery six years prior. When the applicant was unable to provide the release, the company withdrew its job offer without any individualized assessment of the applicant's ability to perform the essential functions of the position.
A pipe manufacturer is being sued for violating the ADA when it refused to provide unpaid leave to a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and fired him as a result of his disability. After suffering seizures later determined to be caused by PTSD, the employee's doctor specifically restricted him from performing certain job functions for six weeks. The manufacturer denied the employee’s request for six weeks of unpaid medical leave, asserting that he was still a probationary employee, and subsequently terminated him. The EEOC maintains in its lawsuit that the manufacturer was required by the ADA to offer unpaid medical leave as a reasonable accommodation to an employee with a disability.
Employers can avoid costly investigations, litigation and negative publicity by implementing and enforcing an EEOC training program and compliance policy.

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