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OSHA Updates Guidance On COVID-19-Related Workplace Safety (US)

As businesses continue to reopen and more workers return to the workplace despite significant increases in infection rates in some parts of the country, many questions have surfaced about employers’ obligations to provide employees with a safe workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently updated its informal COVID-19-related guidance to address a number … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Temperature Testing? Yes. Viral Testing? Yes. Antibody Testing? No! (US)

Employers undertaking the reopening process following COVID-19-related shutdown orders are grappling with what measures they can implement to reduce the potential for transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in their workplace. In addition to requiring face masks, mandating physical distancing, and encouraging regular handwashing, some employers also are requiring employees to submit to medical testing as … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Clarifies That A Disability Must Be Both “Transitory and Minor” To Qualify Under The Exception To The “Regarded-As” Prong of The ADA (US)

With the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) now 30 years old, most people, and certainly all HR professionals and employment lawyers, know that it is unlawful to discriminate against employees (and applicants) on the basis of a physical or mental disability. What is less widely known, however, is that the ADA not only prohibits discrimination … Continue Reading

“I Am Not Wearing That!” – What Can An Employer Do When An Employee Refuses To Comply With COVID-19 Workplace Requirements? (US)

With the reopening process well underway in all 50 states, employers are implementing a variety of plans, policies, and protocols to minimize the potential for employee transmission of the coronavirus in the workplace. These plans – discussed in our Employer’s Guide to Return-to-Work Issues – include making physical changes to the workplace, rearranging employee schedules, … Continue Reading

Navigating Employee Return-to-Work Issues (US)

On Friday, May 15, 2020, Arizona’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” order will expire. At that time, only a handful of states (Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New Jersey) will still be under broad stay-at-home restrictions, but even those remaining states will begin the phased reopening process between May 15 and 30. As employers begin … Continue Reading

EEOC Provides Updated Guidance on Return-to-Work Issues Addressing Accommodations For Employees With COVID-19 Vulnerabilities (US)

Update (5/7/20):  On May 7, 2020, the EEOC re-issued guidance concerning what actions an employer may take if it knows that an employee has a medical condition placing him/her at a higher risk for severe illness if he/she gets COVID-19, and thus is concerned about the employee’s return to the workplace, but the employee has not … Continue Reading

Employer’s Guide to Return-to-Work Issues: COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (US)

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency has changed life as we know it, including by severely disrupting business on a nationwide scale.  In some cases, employers have been forced to temporarily close their doors and cease operations, while others have had to make radical changes to the workplace in order to maintain operations. … Continue Reading

Employer’s After-the-Fact Discovery of Lack of Job Qualification Sinks Employee’s ADA Discrimination Claim (US)

Sunny Anthony worked for TRAX International as a technical writer.  During the course of her employment, she asked TRAX to accommodate her disabilities–post-traumatic stress disorder and related anxiety and depression—by letting her work from home, which TRAX denied or otherwise declined to allow.[1]   So Ms. Anthony sued TRAX, alleging that it violated the Americans with … Continue Reading

EEOC Offers Employers Post-COVID-19 Return-to-Work Pointers (US)

Since early in the pandemic, the EEOC has been maintaining a Technical Assistance Questions and Answers page, which it updates from time to time. As employers’ attention turns to life after COVID-19 and planning for our return to the workplace, on April 17, the EEOC updated its COVID-19 pandemic informal guidance to address the challenges … Continue Reading

EEOC Reminds Employers: Antidiscrimination Laws Continue to Apply During the COVID-19 Pandemic (US)

The United States currently is experiencing an unprecedented public health emergency due to the COVID-19 virus.  The economic fallout of this crisis has been sudden and brutal on US employers, with vast numbers of businesses ordered to close and nearly 1 million new unemployment claims filed in the past two weeks alone.  In response, Congress … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit Issues ADA Work-from-Home Decision, Right Before We All Start Working from Home (US)

Our colleague Justin DiCharia at Squire Patton Boggs’  Sixth Circuit Appellate Blog recently discussed the Sixth Circuit’s decision in a case involving an employee’s request to work from home as a disability accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  As Justin notes below, this decision came prior to the recent COVID-19 pandemic and the massive … Continue Reading

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – Legal Issues in the US

Although the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), commonly referred to as the “coronavirus,” remains a developing situation, it has begun affecting the US in major ways.  With cases now reported throughout the US, every organization should have a plan of action in place concerning the coronavirus.  Although every business faces unique considerations, a cross-disciplinary team of … Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit: Obese Employee Not Disabled Under the ADA (US)

As discussed in our prior posts on obesity and disability law, there is continuing disagreement in the courts concerning whether obesity alone constitutes a disability, or whether obesity must result from a physical disease or condition in order to be a disability.  On February 27, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit … Continue Reading

Inability To Perform A Specific Job Is Not A Substantial Impairment On Ability To Work, Says Second Circuit In ADA Case (US)

In Woolf v. Strada, decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in February 2020, the court considered whether the plaintiff’s inability to perform his particular job as a result of migraines and stress arising from the circumstances surrounding his job gave rise to a qualifying disability under the Americans with Disabilities … Continue Reading

Update: Obesity as a Disability in the Ninth Circuit (US)

As we previously reported here, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the Washington Supreme Court have been wrestling with whether obesity qualifies as a disability under the Washington Law Against Discrimination (“WLAD”). The dispute involves an applicant for a position with a railway company who sued in 2010, alleging that the … Continue Reading

SPB In-Depth:  Service Animals as Reasonable Workplace Disability Accommodations (US)

Many individuals with disabilities use service animals to help them fully engage in everyday life.  Animals, particularly dogs, can be trained to perform a wide range of tasks to help people with disabilities, and the number of tasks these specially trained animals can perform continues to grow. As a result, more applicants and employees are … Continue Reading

Genetic Mutation Is Not A Disability under the ADA, Says Ohio Federal Court (US)

In Darby v. Childvine, a recent decision from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, the Court considered whether a genetic mutation can constitute a “disability” as that term is defined under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). In that case, the employer terminated the plaintiff/then-employee Sherryl Darby two weeks … Continue Reading

Seventh Circuit:  ADA Does Not Prohibit Discrimination Based on Future Impairments (US)

On October 29, 2019, railway operator Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company (“BNSF”) prevailed before the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit – which covers Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin – in a case in which the company argued that its refusal to hire an obese candidate due to an unacceptably high risk that … Continue Reading

US Supreme Court Leaves Standards of Website Accessibility Ambiguous, Vexing Businesses

Employers already are (or should be) familiar with their obligations not to discriminate against and to reasonably accommodate employees and applicants with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), which requirements are addressed in Title I of the ADA.  But the ADA also imposes additional non-employment obligations on governments and municipalities (Title II) and … Continue Reading

Don’t Stress – Anxiety May Not Always Be A Disability Under the ADA (US)

On October 22, 2019, a Tennessee federal district court dismissed a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) against West Meade Place LLP (“WMP”), a skilled nursing facility, after finding on summary judgment that the EEOC failed to establish that former WMP employee … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Issues Decision Clarifying Businesses Obligations to Persons with Disabilities (US)

Many employers are familiar with Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which sets forth employers’ obligations to disabled applicants and employees, but the ADA also imposes obligations on businesses that are places of public accommodation – and nearly all are – with respect to their patrons. A recent Ninth Circuit appellate decision, … Continue Reading

Obesity Continues to Divide Courts: Washington’s High Court Says Obesity Qualifies as an Impairment (US)

As we previously discussed here and here, courts are split regarding the extent to which obesity qualifies as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The Second, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Circuit Courts of Appeal have held that obesity must be accompanied by an underlying physiological disorder for it to constitute a disability, … Continue Reading

Seventh Circuit: Obesity Alone Is Not A Disability Under the ADA (US)

As we previously reported here, the issue of whether obesity is a legally-protected impairment is complex, and jurisdictions differ on the extent to which they consider obesity to be a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  On June 12, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit joined the Second, … Continue Reading

Does Obesity Qualify as a Disability Under the ADA? – It Depends on Who You Ask (US)

According to the most recent data from the Center for Disease Control, more than one-third of American adults are obese.  A person is considered obese when their weight is higher than what is considered as a healthy weight for a given height.  With obesity impacting such a large portion of the American public, employers are … Continue Reading
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