ADA in the News: March 7, 2018

ABM Aviation Sued by EEOC For Disability Discrimination

ABM Aviation, Inc., formerly Air Serv Corporation, an aviation industry cleaning and services provider at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Ga., violated federal law when it denied an employee a reasonable accommodation and terminated her employment due to her disabilities, cardiomyopathy and acute myeloid leukemia, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. The EEOC further alleged that ABM discriminated against the employee when it suspended her for absences related to her disabilities.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended. The EEOC filed suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. ABM Aviation, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-CV-957-SCJ JSA) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The federal agency seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.

"ABM recklessly disregarded the federally protected rights of this employee to earn a living and provide for her family given a reasonable accommodation," said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the EEOC's Atlanta District Office. "The EEOC will continue to hold employers accountable for failing to honor anti-discrimination laws if we are to see significant, long-term change in the way society views individuals with disabilities and the value they add to the workforce."

Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, district director for EEOC's Atlanta District Office, added, "Supporting the medical needs of their employees to allow reasonable accommodations of disabilities should be a top priority for all employers not just because it is the law, but because it is the right thing to do."

Court dismisses ADA suit filed by fired employee taking opioids

Business Insurance

A federal district court has dismissed an Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit filed by an employee who was terminated after his employer learned he was taking both prescription morphine and nonprescription opioids.

Robert Sloan worked for Tipp City, Ohio-based Repacorp Inc., which manufactures labels with the use of heavy machinery, from March 2007 to February 2014, according to the Feb. 27 ruling by the U.S. District Court in Dayton, Ohio, in Robert Sloan v. Repacorp., Inc.

He spent about 10%-20% of his time working with heavy machinery, which was indisputably very dangerous, according to the ruling.

Employee who requested third leave, with specific end date, was not a qualified individual

Neither the ADA nor FEHA required an employer to extend an employee's medical leave indefinitely until she was able to return to work, a federal court in California explained, granting summary judgment against the federal and state-law disability claims of an employee with a broken ankle who argued that additional leave, as set out in her third doctor's note stating she would be temporarily disabled through a specific date, was a reasonable accommodation. Summary judgment was also granted in favor of a second defendant that, the employee alleged, jointly employed her. (Ruiz v Paradigmworks Group, Inc, SDCal, February 22, 2018, Bencivengo, C.)

CUNA and Ohio League take legal action in ADA case

Credit Union National Association and the Ohio Credit Union League today filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio defending a credit union hit with a lawsuit alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This is the latest of multiple briefs CUNA has filed in conjunction with state leagues in similar cases, including Texas and Illinois.

“CUNA and the Ohio Credit Union League filed this brief as part of the continuing defense of credit unions facing lawsuits exploiting a law designed to protect disabled Americans,” said CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle. “These lawsuits are meritless and harmful to credit unions and the communities these institutions serve. We will continue to analyze lawsuits around the country to see where CUNA/league defense of unfairly targeted credit unions can have the greatest impact.” 

Light at the end of the tunnel: House passes bill to curb serial ADA lawsuits

JD Supra

The United States House of Representatives recently passed a bill aimed at stemming the floodtide of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuits brought by a small number of serial plaintiffs. The bill, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620), imposes a notice requirement and would allow businesses a grace period to cure alleged accessibility barriers before a lawsuit could be filed. Although not specifically aimed at particular type of ADA lawsuit, the reforms in the bill may provide relief from the large number of website accessibility lawsuits filed over the past few years. 

Public Accommodation of Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals


Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits disability discrimination in places of public accommodation, which includes businesses that are open to the public – like shopping malls, restaurants, movie theaters, medical offices, recreational facilities, etc. As such, these entities are required to modify practices, procedures, and policies that infringe upon disabled individuals’ rights in certain circumstances. Service animal and emotional support animal accommodation has become an issue for businesses – and the media – as an increasing number of individuals have begun using emotional support animals. With that in mind, below is an analysis of the ADA public accommodation requirements for service animals, including general guidance for properly evaluating an individual’s use of service animals on or in the business premises as well as issues of accommodation for emotional support animals.

Asleep At the Wheel: The Growing Debate Regarding Obesity and Workplace Accommodations


As society continues to grow, pun intended, many new injuries and infirmities are entering the realm of “disability” putting employers more at risk at being caught in the crosshairs of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and comparable state laws (most of which track the original text of the ADA closely).

Some of the extension is due to the number of new and expanded mental infirmities acknowledged in the DSM-V, such as, hoarding, cannabis withdrawal, binge-eating disorder, and others (yes, all of these are real). Some of the extension is due to the evolving workplace, technology gains, and employees better understating disability laws, including accommodations for service/compassion animals.

With the continual legal expansion in this area, aside from Michigan and a half-dozen municipalities that prohibit weight discrimination, obesity has always been and continues to be, in and of itself, not a “disability” under the ADA. The issue, however, became more blurred in 2013 when the American Medical Association pronounced obesity to be a disease. Since then courts have not bought into the AMA’s pronouncement and have maintained that obesity, in and of itself, is not a disability. What this means is that, an employer will not have to accommodate the obesity of an employee if obesity is the only issue. The “if” is what presents the continuing legal struggle for employers in that, if an employee suffers other medical or psychological conditions related to or as a result of the non-covered obesity, the employer may have to accommodate.

Avoiding headaches with the 'other duties as assigned' provision

The Business Journals

When it comes to creating job descriptions, adding “other duties as assigned” has become practically a no-brainer for many employers.

After all, addressing every possible task that might arise throughout an employee’s tenure is nearly impossible.

But what exactly does “other duties” entail, and how much does the statement actually protect you? And just because you can assign workers virtually any task, does it mean you should?

Since You Asked: Colors on handicap placards have meaning

Mail Tribune

Being disabled isn’t always so black-and-white, Katherine, so in Oregon you’ll find something of a spectrum of colors on the signs and permits for disabled persons’ parking spaces.

In Oregon, you can find dark blue, red or light blue parking permits hanging on a rear-view mirror, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation website.

Light blue placards are only for wheelchair users only. A light blue permit will allow parking in any space reserved for disabled people, including van-accessible spaces indicated by a light blue and green “wheelchair user only” sign. Permits may be issued to drivers with disabilities or groups that transport people with disabilities, according to the DMV driver handbook.

Dark blue and red permits match the dark blue ADA signs, and are for people with other mobility disabilities, according to ODOT. Dark blue permits are renewable, while red ones are temporary permits. Those permits allow parking in any space reserved for disabled people, except for “wheelchair user only” spaces.

Editorial: Sensible reform needed to fix nation's ADA

The Trentonian

The Americans with Disabilities Act Education and Reform Act of 2017 is a vital opportunity to advance the mission of the ADA while protecting business owners from costly lawsuits.

Since 1990, the ADA has served an important purpose by expanding access for disabled Americans to public places. Unfortunately, the law has all too often been abused, with serial litigants taking advantage of the law to file lawsuits purely for monetary gain. For instance, one serial litigant here in California has filed 2,000 lawsuits in federal court since 2004.

Every year, thousands of lawsuits are filed in federal invoking, in particular, Title III of the ADA which, as the Justice Department explains, “prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations.” Examples of places of public accommodations include businesses, restaurants, movie theaters and doctors’ offices, locations that are generally open to the public.

Under the ADA, people who believe they are being denied access in places of public accommodation due to architectural barriers are allowed to file a lawsuit.

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