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Showing 7 posts in Americans With Disabilities Act.

Sixth Circuit Reverses Earlier Opinion Extending Telecommuting As A Widely Available

Last year, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals triggered alarms among employers throughout the country when it issued its opinion in EEOC v. Ford Motor Company, 752 F.3d 634 (6th Cir. 2014),  In that case, the Court held that an employee who suffered from severe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) was entitled to a trial on her claim that she remained qualified for work as a resale steel buyer despite her inability to physically attend work with regularity.  Because the plaintiff had requested an accommodation of being permitted to work from home up to four days per week, and not on set days, the Cour held an issue of fact existed as to whether such a requested accommodation was reasonable, and whether the employer had failed to properly accommodate her disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act given the advances in technology that have made such telecommuting arrangements more common.  Employers were alarmed at the prospect of having employees demand, and be entitled to, “work from home” arrangements based on their representation that they could perform their job nearly as well from their home as they could in their office.

The Court granted en banc review of its earlier opinion and, on April 10, 2015, issued an opinion reinstating a more common sense approach to telecommuting based on the needs of the position and the typical requirement that employees actually be present in the workplace in order to work.  The Court did not, however, rule that telecommuting always is unavailable as a reasonable accommodation; employers are well advised to consider the Court’s opinion interpreting the accommodation requirement and examining the “interactive process” in which employers facing requests for accommodation must engage. Read More ›

New Technology Nightmare -- Right to Telecommute As A "Reasonable" Accommodation Under the Americans With Disabilities Act

Until recently, employers were fairly confident that under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA"), except in extraordinary circumstances, an employer had no obligation to accommodate an employee’s disability by allowing him/her to work from home.  Based upon existing precedent, the following principles seemed well established:

  • Attending work on a regular, predictable schedule is an essential function of a job.
  • Excessive absenteeism renders an individual unqualified under the ADA as a matter of law, except in the unusual case where an employee can perform all work-related duties at home.
  • An employer need not accommodate erratic or unreliable attendance.
  • The courts must consider the employer’s business judgment when determining the essential functions of the job.

Based upon what the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently described as an “advancement of technology,” each of these principles is now under attack.  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Ford Motor Company, Sixth Circuit No. 12-2484  (2014)  (“EEOC v. Ford” or “Ford”). Read More ›

Five New Year's Resolutions For Employers

As clichéd as it sounds, the beginning of a new year is a good time for employers to assess their employment practices, both to comply with changes in regulations or laws that became effective on January 1, 2013, and to check for outstanding issues that should have been addressed long ago.  While a full-fledged employment audit is well beyond the scope of a simple blog entry, there are nonetheless many simple steps employers can take to ensure ongoing legal compliance.  Read More ›

Seventh Circuit Clarifies Scope of Acceptable Medical Inquiry In Affirming Dismissal of EEOC Suit Against Employer.

In EEOC v. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, the Seventh Circuit affirmed a decision from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin dismissing the EEOC’s lawsuit for an alleged violation of the ADA’s restrictions on an employer’s ability to disclose information gathered through “medical examinations and inquiries.” In doing so, the Court sidestepped a potentially significant expansion of the law advocated by the EEOC. The decision is a good reminder of the pitfalls created by the ADA and a warning about the EEOC’s desire to expand the Act’s prohibitions through litigation. Read More ›

Sixth Circuit Expands Definition of “Medical Exam” Prohibited By Americans With Disabilities Act to Include Counseling

For over twenty years, the Americans With Disabilities Act has prohibited employers from conducting medical examinations of current employees unless they are “job related and consistent with business necessity.” Typically, employers comply with that prohibition by applying a common sense understanding of what constitutes an “examination.” But a recent decision of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has interpreted the term broadly, giving life to expansive EEOC regulations and creating potential liability for unwary employers. Read More ›

Sixth Circuit Issues Valuable Reminder of the Importance of Contractually Shortened Limitations Periods

Employers constantly are on the lookout for strategies to employ that reduce the risk of potential litigation arising from the workplace.  In a recent decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals served an important reminder of the importance of contractually shortened limitations periods as one simple step that employers can take to cut off potential employment claims. Read More ›

Sixth Circuit Overturns Longstanding Americans With Disabilities Act Precedent, Establishes “But-For” Standard For Proving Violations.

On Friday, May 25, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued its opinion in Lewis v. Humboldt Acquisition Corp., in which it overturned seventeen years’ worth of decisions requiring a plaintiff alleging discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”) to show that their disability was the “sole” reason for an adverse employment action taken against them.  The Court explained that the proper standard of proof for a plaintiff alleging disability discrimination under the ADA paralleled the one established under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”)-- a showing that “but for” the disability, the adverse employment action would not have taken place.  This decision certainly will have an effect upon ADA claims brought in the Sixth Circuit into the foreseeable future, but exactly what that effect will be is open to debate. Read More ›