Disability Discrimination Articles

Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act Prohibits Perceived Disability Discrimination

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             The Connecticut Supreme Court recently ruled that the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-51 et seq., (CFEPA), not only prohibits discrimination based on actual physical disability, but also applies to discrimination based on perceived physical disabilities. Desrosiers v. Diageo North American, Inc. This brings Connecticut state law in line with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which expressly protects employees from discrimination based on both actual and perceived disability. 

Preserving Punctuality as an Essential Job Function under the ADA

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            In most jobs, arriving to work on time is an essential job function. However, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Connecticut, recently held that for purposes of the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) punctuality is not an essential job function per se. Instead, employers must be able to prove that being on time is an essential function. Further, even where it is shown to be an essential function, employers must provide work schedule flexibility, unless they can prove doing so would create an undue hardship on the organization.

Help for the Homely as EEOC Explores Discrimination Based on Looks

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            Just when you thought the list of traits that can form the basis for a charge of discrimination couldn’t possibly grow any further, the EEOC is considering whether claims based on “looks” violates Title VII or the ADA. According to a recent article by James McDonald of Fisher & Phillips, LLP, (“Here’s Looking at You Kid-The EEOC Looks for Beauty Bias”), quoted here at length, the EEOC, is currently investigating Marylou's Coffee, a chain of Massachusetts coffee shops, for its practice for hiring young attractive women to serve coffee. The EEOC's investigation was not triggered from a complaint by a rejected applicant or fired employee. Rather, it is a Commission-initiated investigation conducted, according to the director of the EEOC's Boston office, because "it's possible that applicants or employees might not know that they have been discriminated against."

Reasonable Accommodation Covers Commute to Work

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            In a recent case, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that an employer’s reasonable accommodation obligation extends to assisting employees with their commute to work. Nixon-Tinkelman v. NYC Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene, Case No. 10-3317-cv (2d Cir. Aug. 10, 2011). The obligation stems from both the American’s with Disabilities Act and the federal Rehabilitation Act.

Employee Medical Exams Permitted Under Limited Circumstances

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            Requiring current employees to undergo a medical examination is unlawful, unless the ADA’s requirements, and those of any comparable state law, are closely followed. The ADA generally prohibits employers from requiring current employees to submit to medical examinations, unless they can show the examination is “job related and consistent with business necessity.” Conroy v. N.Y. State Dept. of Correctional Services, 333 F.3d 88 (2d Cir. 2003).


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