Reasonable Accommodation

In the latest entry in our series on extraordinary workplace misconduct, we must come to terms with the fact that not everyone loves birthdays or surprises. And, when an employee tells you that they don’t want a surprise birthday party, you’d best oblige them or you could face a discrimination suit and a nearly half a million-dollar jury verdict!

As the Washington Post, New York Times, and our Twitter scrolling reported, a Kentucky-based medical laboratory, Gravity Diagnostics, was found liable by a jury for disability discrimination when it fired an employee who suffered from an anxiety disorder that caused panic attacks. As a result, the jury awarded $450,000 in damages for lost wages and emotional distress. However, it’s the series of events that prompted the employer’s actions that are truly extraordinary.

Continue Reading Extraordinary Workplace Misconduct: Celebrating you is a piece of cake…

The Maryland General Assembly’s 2022 session ended at midnight on Monday, April 11. There were a number of bills passed of significance to employers, including the creation of a paid family leave program, an expanded definition of illegal harassment, an extension of the statute of limitations for employment discrimination and harassment claims, reasonable accommodations for applicants with disabilities, the possibility of recreational marijuana, revisions to Maryland’s Personal Information Protection law, and Juneteenth as a new State holiday. For more details about each of these bills and information about our upcoming webinar on April 28, 2022 to provide guidance on compliance, click here.

Continue Reading New Employment Laws in Maryland – Paid Family and Medical Leave, Expanded Definition of Harassment, Disability Accommodations and More (and a Webinar!)

Although COVID-19 is still very much present, we see improvement in the COVID-19 numbers, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now significantly eased their mask recommendations– although not entirely. Employers may wish to review their workplace masking requirements and other COVID-19 protocols in light of the new guidance, as well as the diminishing restrictions at the state and local level.
Continue Reading What the CDC’s Latest Mask Guidance Means for Employers

A COVID-19 infection, in and of itself, is not necessarily a disability that triggers employee rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act – but there are circumstances when it can be, including for individuals experiencing long-term symptoms of COVID-19 (a condition with many names, such as “long COVID,” post-COVID,” “long-haul COVID,” “post-acute COVID-19,” “long-term effects of COVID,” or “chronic COVID”). The EEOC has now updated its COVID-19 Guidance to provide clarification on this issue for employers.

Continue Reading When Is COVID-19 a Disability? The EEOC Speaks

On October 25, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its guidance document, What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws, to address religious objections to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. In a new section to the guidance, the EEOC draws upon previously-existing guidance for religious exemptions generally. While there are no real surprises, the collection of information in the guidance document is helpful.
Continue Reading EEOC Issues Guidance On Religious Exemptions to COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements

A day after President Biden announced his COVID-19 Action Plan (which we discussed here), leaders from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration held a short briefing to discuss its forthcoming Emergency Temporary Standard that will require employers with 100+ employees to (1) mandate vaccinations or weekly testing, and (2) provide paid vaccination leave. The President’s announcement regarding these requirements was sorely lacking in details, but the OSHA briefing provided a few (not many) useful tidbits for nervously wondering employers.  (Be aware, however, that the ETS is not yet written, and it is possible that some of what they said today might not end up being accurate….)
Continue Reading A Few More Answers from OSHA on the Impending Vaccination ETS…

And I’m pretty darned sure that many employers feel the same way. This issue has been coming up a lot lately with the burgeoning requests for medical exemptions in the context of COVID-19 vaccine mandates.  TO BE CLEAR,  I am NOT questioning those employees with actual medical conditions that legitimately prevent them from getting a vaccine – I’m talking about those folks who just don’t want the shot, and get their doctors to write some nonsense note that has no actual basis in medical fact.  And frankly, this has been an issue generally beyond the vaccine. (It even showed up in my recent blog post about the employee who wanted to bring his dog to work).  So what can we do?

Continue Reading I’m Tired of Doctors Who Just Say Whatever the Employee Wants…

Some readers may know that I have an adorable dog. A lifelong dog-hater, we got the dog as a bribe for my son (long story), and now I love the darned thing. There are days that he is the only one in the family that I love. And it’s been great, in this year+ of WFH, to have him nearby at all times.  Many people agree – and some would like to take their fur babies to the office when they return. But, as one court recently explained, that’s only required if the dog is, in fact, a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act – and there must be medical support for such an accommodation.

Continue Reading Love Me, Love My Dog? Maybe Not at Work…

Just over two weeks after it relaxed its protocols for fully-vaccinated individuals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now issued revised guidance essentially permitting those individuals to resume their pre-pandemic lifestyle, subject to any applicable and differing state and local mandates. Consistent with prior iterations of this guidance, the CDC asserts that “You will still need to follow guidance at your workplace.” So what can employers do now? Well, we’ve now updated our last blog post on this topic (and then further updated to account for OSHA’s latest pronouncement).

Continue Reading UPDATED: Back to Normal for the Fully Vaccinated? What the CDC’s Latest Guidance Means for Employers

So my partners and I have repeatedly written that, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers – not employees – get to choose among available accommodations to enable an employee with a disability to perform their essential job functions or enjoy equal privileges and benefits of employment. (See here and here, for example).  But, as a federal appellate court recently explained, that principle is not without limitation – at least as to reassignment.

Continue Reading “Reassignment is the reasonable accommodation of last resort”