Overview: The EEOC is cracking down on employee discrimination against individuals with disabilities (a more preferred term than disabled employees) under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). An individual is considered disabled under the ADA if: (i) they have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of their major life activities; or (ii) a record of such an impairment; or (iii) are regarded as having such an impairment. Employers need to apply this definition broadly and are wise to focus more on the interactive process and the duty to accommodate the individual. In addition, because many states and municipalities have laws that define what constitutes a disability, employers should check their state/local law to ensure full compliance.
Employers should also ensure they have the required ADA poster and supplement in locations that can be easily seen by applicants and employees and that their policies, programs and practices follow the purpose and language of the amended ADA.
Trends: With the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA), many more individuals fall within the ADA's definition of disability. The growing definition of disability is another reason why an employee who has a disability wants to be considered an individual with a disability, as opposed to being a disabled employee. Therefore, employer focus on the interactive process and reasonably accommodating employees - and not whether the individual is disabled - is increasingly paramount.
"No fault" leave or attendance policies under which employees are automatically terminated after being on leave for a specific period of time can be considered a violation of the ADA if the policy or practice fails to incorporate an interactive process to assess whether additional, definite leave may be a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. The EEOC has targeted several employers - to the tune of millions of dollars - challenging such no-fault leave policies.
Melissa S. Burdorf, J.D., Legal Editor
On May 15, 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its questions and answers series regarding workplace rights and the prevention of discrimination against individuals with specific disabilities.
A federal jury in Iowa recently awarded a verdict totaling $240 million to 32 farm workers who were subject to a hostile work environment harassment and severe abuse at the hands of their employer and supervisors. Despite the fact that this was the largest judgment ever obtained by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency told the Des Moines Register that the award must be lowered because federal law limits the compensatory and punitive damages each plaintiff can receive to $50,000.
Unlike physical disabilities, mental disabilities are not easy to spot and can be challenging to handle from the HR perspective. This How to provides guidance to employers handling mental disabilities in the workplace.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is scheduled to hold a public meeting on Wednesday, May 8, at 9:00 am (EST), to discuss how employee wellness programs should be handled under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other laws enforced by the EEOC. The employer community has long been waiting for EEOC guidance in this area and this meeting will bring them one step closer.
XpertHR's Retail Resource Center for HR helps retail employers handle their most vexing employment issues by bringing relevant resources together in one place for easy access.
In light of a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, employers should review their internal policies regarding flexible work arrangements in order to recruit and retain qualified employees with disabilities.
While there is no federal law that specifically protects employees who are victims of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault and/or other crimes, many states have enacted laws granting job protection and leave to such employees and/or employees whose family members have been victimized. These laws also typically prohibit employers from penalizing or terminating an employee because the employee exercises his or her rights as a crime victim or a victim of domestic violence which includes attending court as a witness in a related criminal proceeding. An employer should publish a written policy if the employer is located in a state that requires such leave or if this is an important value to the employer.
XpertHR's High-Tech Resource Center for HR: Discrimination and Harassment helps high-tech employers handle their most challenging employment issues by bringing relevant resources together in one place for easy access.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Oregon employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to terms of employment.
HR guidance on handling employees with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Support on the many regulations of the ADA.
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