EEOC alleges medical exams and questionnaires violate ADA, GINA

November 19, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Courtney Bru

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) limits employers’ ability to make disability-related inquiries or subject employees to medical exams. You may not take those actions until after you’ve offered the applicant a job. Once a conditional offer of employment has been made, you may ask about medical conditions or require a medical exam, as long as you do it for all individuals in that job category. If the inquiries or exam screens someone out because of a disability, you must demonstrate that you rejected him for a reason that is “job-related and consistent with business necessity.” Generally, you must show you had a reasonable belief, based on objective evidence, that his ability to perform the essential job functions would be impaired by his medical condition.  Health history form

EEOC: Standards, inquiries used to discriminate

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Disability bias verdict provides 4.5M reasons to check your policies

June 18, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Jeffrey D. Slanker

A recent case from Central Florida highlights the importance of maintaining and properly implementing updated and compliant equal employment opportunity and antidiscrimination policies. The case involved disability discrimination claims, and a jury ultimately found in favor of the employee and rendered a $4.5 million verdict. The case is a reminder of the importance of complying with employment discrimination laws and the need to take extra caution when determining whether a termination is justified. Manager Giving Performance Review

Facts

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Employees’ food allergies are nothing to sneeze at!

September 18, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Stefanie M. Renaud

Navigating the ins and outs of your obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and similar state laws can be a challenge for even the most seasoned HR professional. One situation that may be familiar to you is having an employee with food allergies. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, about 15 million people in the United States suffer from food allergies, and that number is steadily increasing. Allergies are not only miserable for the sufferer, but they can also hurt an employer’s bottom line: It’s estimated that employees miss about four million workdays per year as a result of allergies. Allergy food

Depending on their severity, food allergies may be covered by the ADA or similar state laws. To avoid employee complaints, lost productivity, excessive absences, and the risk of a lawsuit, it’s important to have a plan in place to address requests for accommodations based on food allergies.

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ADA defense: Disabled worker poses direct threat to health or safety

September 18, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Steven T. Collis

You know you can’t discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability. But what if you are convinced the person’s disability would create a significant risk of harm to him or others if he’s allowed to perform the intended job? The “direct threat” defense may help you avoid liability for a disability discrimination claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)Safety Always

Direct threat defense defined

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Employers may be required to accommodate unhygienic employees

August 14, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Deanna L. Forbush

Most employers have several policies explaining their expectations for employee appearance and hygiene. The policies generally include topics such as appearance, dress, disruption of the workplace, health and safety, and interaction with other employees. Appearance and hygiene policies are generally published in an employer’s personnel handbook.   Portrait of a young woman  disgusting with bad smell

Many employers require employees to meet high grooming and hygiene standards as a condition of continued employment, and employers generally retain sole discretion to determine whether an employee’s hygiene and grooming meet their sometimes subjective standards. Employers that do not have hygiene and grooming policies are advised to implement standards as soon as possible because the appearance of employees—especially those who work in the service sector—can have a huge effect on a company’s overall image.

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Understanding strengths, weaknesses of bipolar employees

July 17, 2016 1 COMMENTS

Disabilities of all types pose challenges for employers and employees alike. As employers struggle to find ways to help employees with disabilities do their jobs, they also must fulfill obligations created by laws designed to prevent discrimination and violate privacy. Like other disabilities, bipolar disorder presents its own unique challengesconcerns that will be explored in a Business and Legal Resources webinar set for July 28 titled “Employees with Bipolar Disorder: HR’s Roadmap for ADA Accommodations and Practical Issues.”  Human Emotion

Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive disorder, causes people to experience varying highs and lows as well as changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. A bipolar employee may be wildly creative and productive sometimes and disruptive and nonproductive at other times, meaning employers see great strengths and frustrating weaknesses all wrapped up in the same employee.

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Managing an injured employee

September 20, 2015 2 COMMENTS

by Al Vreeland

Few things create more headaches in the HR suite than an employee who is injured on the job and then resists returning to work. HR’s headaches are usually centered at the intersection of state workers’ compensation laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). A federal judge in Birmingham dispensed a little relief for one employer’s headache, finding it had done all it could to help an injured employee return to workor at least all it was required to do.  Help! I Fell at Work

The basics

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Interactions with Asperger’s: Discrimination, wrongful discharge claims go to trial

August 16, 2015 1 COMMENTS

Soon after an employee provided his employer with information about his Asperger’s syndrome, it informed him that his contract wouldn’t be renewed because “Your Asperger’s got in the way of your ability to interact with your boss, and we are tired of it.” Afterward, the employee brought claims of wrongful termination and discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The employer attempted to persuade the court that even if all the evidence he presented was true, the employee would still be unable to prevail at trial. Let’s see how things turned out.  You Are Fired

Background

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Avoiding reverse disability discrimination claims

February 15, 2015 0 COMMENTS

by Andy Rodman

Q As part of my company’s diversity efforts, I would like to reach out to some disability advocate groups to try to fill a few vacant positions. I’m afraid that by doing so, I may be opening up the company to reverse discrimination claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Are my fears justified?  Able to Work

A First off, I applaud your company’s diversity efforts, particularly with respect to the disabled — a group that sometimes is forgotten when it comes to outreach efforts. As for your fears, they are justified only to the extent that there is little (or nothing) you can do to stop a rejected nondisabled applicant from filing a failure-to-hire claim based on perceived reverse disability discrimination. Unfortunately, as many companies see from time to time, some disgruntled applicants and employees will sue for almost anything — even if the claims have no legal basis.

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Better with age: legal issues with the aging American workforce

January 18, 2015 0 COMMENTS

by Allison B. Wannop

It is undeniable that the American workforce is getting older or, shall we say, more mature. In The Aging U.S. Workforce, the Stanford Center on Longevity estimates that by 2020, workers 55 and older will make up a quarter of the U.S. labor force, up from 13% in 2000. As the Baby Boomer generation hits retirement age, employers face a host of legal issues. Some landmines are rather obvious. For example, employers cannot terminate an employee simply because of her age.

Other issues are more nuanced. What if an employee is performing poorly because of age-related reasons? Can an employer terminate an older employee whose benefits are expensive? This article provides guidance on some of the issues employers with an aging workforce face.  Age Discrimination is Bad

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