#ReasonableAccommodations

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…

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”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to issue a steady stream of new guidance and information on COVID-19, some of which has specific relevance to the workplace. During the first part of February 2021, such guidance includes new masking recommendations, when workers who are severely immunocompromised can return to work after a COVID-19 diagnosis, and customizable vaccine communications to essential workers (that may eventually be useful for all workers).

Continue Reading The Latest COVID-19 Workplace Guidance from the CDC: More on Masks, Returning to Work After Infection, and Vaccine Communications to Employees

In my occasional series of blog posts involving I-can’t-believe-they-said-that employee excuses, here’s one that made my jaw drop.

Many of you are familiar with the Wal-Mart greeter – that friendly person at the store entrance who used to welcome shoppers with a hello and perhaps an offer of assistance. (And I say “used to” because apparently the position has been replaced by a  “customer host” position that provides more customer service and theft prevention functions throughout the store). This position, which was created by founder Sam Walton, was a large part of the company culture.  It seems obvious that the essential function of a greeter is, well, to greet customers. Which would necessarily require the greeter to actually be present in order to do so, right?


Continue Reading Extraordinary Employee Excuses: Attendance Is Not An Essential Job Function of a Greeter?

As I discussed in a blog post last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been bringing cases on behalf of applicants/employees who use lawfully prescribed opioids (including methadone) against employers who fail to conduct an individualized assessment of the applicant/employee to determine whether those drugs made them unqualified for the position. In EEOC v. Steel Painters LLC, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas held that a reasonable jury could find that the employer did just that.

Continue Reading Methadone User Can Sue Under ADA

And with that obvious (and rather snarky) statement, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit made the obvious point that an employee who was asleep or unconscious on the job was unable to perform the essential functions of his job and therefore not qualified for the position under the Americans with Disabilities Act! Now, as my regular readers know, I enjoy a good snark and my blog posts about various court decisions often contain snide comments. But in this case, the (usually quite proper) Fifth Circuit took care of that all on its own…

Continue Reading “[M]aintaining consciousness is a basic element of any job.”

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an employee unable to perform the essential functions of his/her job must be in want of a transfer. And it is also quite clear under the Americans with Disabilities Act that the employer must consider a transfer or reassignment to a vacant position as a reasonable accommodation. What is less clear is whether the employee automatically gets the position (i.e. an arranged marriage) or whether the employer can require the employee to compete for the position (see, e.g. “The Bachelor”).

Continue Reading A Marriage of Convenience? EEOC Continues To Push Non-Competitive Transfer as Reasonable Accommodation

My interest is piqued by laws with unusual twists, like the Emeryville, California ordinance that permits the use of sick leave to care for a family member’s service animal (about which I blogged previously). Here’s another one – Pittsburgh recently passed a pregnancy accommodations ordinance that extends protections to the partners of pregnant employees!

Continue Reading Pregnancy Protections for Partners?

In its latest edition of the Digest of EEO Law, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission included an article entitled, “Religious Accommodation in the Workplace: An Overview of the Law and Recent Commission Decisions.” Although the article summarizes federal sector decisions, it provides guidance to private employers on the EEOC’s overall position on religious accommodations – and (just in time for Halloween) the conclusions are a little scary!

Continue Reading What Does the EEOC Think About Religious Accommodations? It’s Spooky!