Disability Discrimination Articles

Disabled Employees Eligible for Reasonable Accommodation Under Connecticut Law

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            The Connecticut Supreme Court recently ruled that the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (“CFEPA”) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to disabled employees. Curry v. Allan S. Goodman, Inc., 286 Conn. 390 (2008). While reasonable accommodation has always been required under the federal ADA, this recent ruling now imposes similar requirements on employers with as few as three employees. Also, a greater number of employees will now be eligible for reasonable accommodation as CFEPA’s definition of “disabled” is broader than the ADA’s.

Employers Must Take Initiative to Accommodate Obvious Disabilities

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            The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that employers must provide reasonable accommodation to employees with obvious disabilities, even when the employee fails to request one. Brady v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 531 F.3d 127 (2d Cir. 2008). Wal-Mart hired the plaintiff for a pharmacy assistant position. The employee held a similar job with a local pharmacy for two years prior to joining Wal-Mart. Within days of his hire his manager complained about his performance. Although plaintiff had cerebral palsy and was obviously disabled, his manager never approached him to discuss any reasonable accommodations he may have required to perform the essential functions of his job. Instead, he was transferred to a job collecting shopping carts and garbage in the parking lot. Shortly thereafter he quit and filed suit under the ADA.

Strict Punctuality Policy May Violate ADA

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            The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals found that strict enforcement of a punctuality policy may violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, unless punctuality is an essential job function. Holly v. Clairson Industries, LLC, 492 F.3d 1247 (11th Cir. 2007). The plaintiff, a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair, worked for defendant for some 17 years before being terminated for tardiness. He claimed his lateness was disability related and that strict punctuality was not an essential job function. He further argued that the employer’s failure to reasonably accommodate his tardiness violated the ADA.

Personality Test Considered Medical Exam Subject to ADA Requirements

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            In a case of first impression, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (“MMPI”) is a “medical test," and therefore its use must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Karraker v. Rent-A-Center, Inc., 411 F.3d 831 (7th Cir. 2005). In making its decision, the court noted that the ADA limits the ability of employers to use “medical examinations and inquiries” as a condition of employment if they lack job relatedness and business necessity. Further, pre-employment medical examinations are generally not permitted.

Employee Medical Examinations

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            According to the EEOC’s guidance on Disability Related Inquires and Medical Examinations of Employees Under the ADA, an employer may require current employees to undergo medical examinations if they are “job related” and “consistent with business necessity.” Blood and urine tests to determine the current use of illegal drugs fall outside the definition of “medical exams” and are permissible under the ADA, subject to any state reasonable suspicion requirements, or other legal restrictions.


 

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