Reasonable Accommodation

As a follow up to Fiona Ong’s blog post detailing the highly disturbing (but sadly not surprising) treatment[1] of an associate who interviewed for and accepted a new position while on parental leave, this blog post focuses on how employers can best support their employees who have taken parental leave—both those who have given birth and those who take caregiving leave and are adjusting to new responsibilities as a parent. As an employment lawyer and mom who returned to full-time work after having three children, here are some tips to support your new parents in the workplace.

Continue Reading Maternity Leave ≠ Sitting on Your Ass: Part II

I’ve previously written about an employer’s obligation to accommodate service or emotional support animals in the workplace, as well as guidelines the employer should consider if it finds itself on the receiving end of such a request.  At the time of that blog post, the EEOC had filed suit in the Northern District of Iowa alleging that a national trucking conglomerate failed to accommodate, refused to hire, and then retaliated against a veteran truck driver because he used a service dog, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). (The ADA both prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to such employees to enable them to perform their essential job functions or enjoy the privileges and benefits of employment.) That case ultimately resulted in a negotiated settlement and consent decree in March 2019.  More recently, in July 2022, the EEOC filed suit against arts-and-crafts retailer Hobby Lobby alleging that it violated the ADA by refusing to provide reasonable accommodations and by terminating a cashier who relied upon a service dog to assist her with symptoms caused by post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. 

Continue Reading Support/Service Animals in the Workplace – What Should Employers Do?

So, many people, including my son, are rejoicing because the voters in Maryland approved recreational marijuana (which Maryland refers to as “cannabis”) last week. Employers, however, are perhaps not quite so excited – and may be confused about what that  actually means for the workplace. While we don’t yet have all the answers, let’s talk about what we do know.

Continue Reading Recreational Marijuana in Maryland? What Employers Need to Know

So awhile back, I wrote a blog post about DC laws that were passed but not implemented. But we just ran into the opposite issue – apparently DC has implemented a law that doesn’t – technically – exist! Let me explain.

Continue Reading Wait – But the Disability Law Doesn’t Actually Say That!

Does an employer violate discrimination laws when it acts on information that it honestly believes about an employee that disqualifies him from the job? Even if the employer might be mistaken and the employee has a legally protected disability? An appellate court recently provided the answer. No!!

Continue Reading Are Rumor Based Beliefs a Defense to Discrimination Claims?

I know we’re all tired of COVID-19, and many of us are just pretending that life has returned to normal. But, just as the darned variants continue to evolve, so does the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s What You Should Know About COVID and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws guidance. This week, the EEOC updated a number of its Q&As, with some more targeted guidance for employers. Of particular interest (at least to this management-side attorney) are the newly-identified factors that employers should consider to establish a business-necessity for viral testing and those that are relevant to the direct threat assessment.  Here’s our summary of most of the updated questions:

Continue Reading The EEOC Updates Its COVID Guidance for Employers – Testing, Accommodations, Direct Threat and More

Have you read the warnings on prescription painkillers? They can be pretty scary – “May cause drowsiness.” “May cause dizziness.” “Do not operate a car or dangerous machinery.” (Or words to that effect). I think by now, everyone is aware of the risks associated with controlled substances. Certainly, the opioid epidemic did not earn its name lightly. So it’s not surprising that some employers are concerned when employees take prescription medications that come with those warnings – particularly when those employees are working with heavy machinery or sharp objects, or getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. But it is important for employers to understand when they can – and cannot – prohibit employees on such medications from working.

Continue Reading Employers – Don’t Automatically Assume Prescription Meds Pose a Danger in the Workplace

When considering a request for reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, many employers focus on what will enable an employee to perform the essential functions of their job. But the reasonable accommodation obligation is actually broader than that. As set forth in the EEOC’s regulations, employers must also provide reasonable accommodations that enable an employee with a disability “to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by its other similarly situated employees without disabilities.” And this encompasses certain activity outside the workplace – such as parking.

Continue Reading Reasonable Accommodations Don’t Just Start at the Office Door…

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!)