Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Has Illinois Taken Leave Of Its Senses?

By David G. Lubben, Esq.

Leave program managers have a tough job. The federal FMLA is complex and has hundreds of pages of detailed regulations. New state laws from Illinois will make the leave administrator’s job even tougher in this State.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Drug Testing Your Employees: Invasion of Privacy or Business Need?

by Michael Latimer, Esq.

Drug use by employees on and off the job has been a problem for employers for many years. Consequently, many employers now utilize some form of drug testing for employees and job applicants. Any type of employee drug testing obviously raises privacy concerns for the employee but the issue is particularly sensitive if the employer's policy requires random, unannounced or observed drug testing.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Employers Feeling Good About Win in EEOC Wellness Case

by Jonathan T. Hyman, Esq.

Last year, the EEOC published proposed regulations detailing how and when employers can maintain wellness incentives for employees under group health plans without running afoul of the ADA's voluntariness requirements for medical exams.

In the closing minutes of 2015, a Wisconsin federal court issued an opinion in one of the first lawsuits filed by the EEOC that had challenged an employer wellness program as an ADA violation. The resulting victory for the employer may cause the EEOC to rethink its wellness-incentive strategy.

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Alcoholism & ADA: Former USC Coach Files Suit Over His Termination

by Jonathan T. Hyman, Esq.

On October 12, University of Southern California (USC) fired its head football coach, Steve Sarkisian. On Tuesday, Sarkisian filed a 31-page, 14-count complaint in California state court challenging his termination. The crux of his claims? That USC violated state disability-discrimination laws by terminating him because of his disability and failing to accommodate his disability—alcoholism.

There is no doubt that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects alcoholism as a disability. The law, however, draws a line between protected addiction and unprotected on-the-job misconduct, even when the former causes the latter.

This case will test the limits of that line.

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Is Telecommuting a Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA?

by Rhianna A. Kittrell, Esq.

As most companies and businesses are aware, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide employees who are considered qualified individuals with disabilities with reasonable accommodations that allow those employees to perform the essential functions of the job, provided that the reasonable accommodation does not create an undue hardship for the employer.

The ADA defines a "qualified individual" as a person who can perform the essential functions of his or her job with or without a reasonable accommodation. When employers are faced with questions from employees regarding accommodations, determining whether the employee is a qualified individual who must be accommodated can become a complex issue.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Conflict and Confusion Continue over Employee Wellness Programs

by Timothy Puin, Esq.

For every dollar a company spends on an employee wellness program—whether by offering free flu shots, a discounted salad bar, or T-shirts for tracking steps on a Fitbit device—the company may save as much as $4 in lost productivity and related costs. However, employers who get a little too enthusiastic in this regard about may find themselves on the wrong side of the laws protecting employee rights.

Employee wellness programs have come under renewed scrutiny by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) created new incentives for employers to maintain wellness programs as a way of controlling health care spending related to diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and tobacco use, in particular.

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Monday, August 10, 2015

More Than a Pet: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Properties

by Steven J. Krueger, Esq.

Most people are familiar with service animals—generally exemplified by a service dog assisting an individual with a disability. Only service dogs, miniature horses, and monkeys are recognized as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Wisconsin law prohibits a public place to deny entrance to a person with a disability accompanied by a service animal. Additionally, under Wisconsin housing law, if an individual's vision, hearing, or mobility is impaired, it is discrimination for a landlord to refuse to rent or sell housing to the individual, evict the individual, require extra compensation as a condition of continued residence, or harass the individual because she keeps a service animal that is specially trained to lead or assist her.

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Monday, April 13, 2015

ADA Requires Reassignment Regardless of More Qualified Applicants

by Maryjo F. Pirages, Esq.

Reassignment by an employer has long been recognized as a reasonable accommodation for a disabled employee as long as the employee is qualified for the position, the position is vacant, and the reassignment does not place an undue burden on the employer.

Prior to September 2012, the Seventh Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Illinois district courts, held that the ADA did not require reassignment in instances where more qualified candidates applied for the position.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

How to Treat Pregnancy-Related Disabilities

by Kathryn Morris Willis, Esq.

A pregnant employee walks into your office, says she has a lifting restriction of five pounds, and can't do her job. You reason, "Pregnancy isn't a disability. I don't have to treat it that way." Right?

Not so fast.

In July 2014, the EEOC issued a new Guidance (Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues) regarding pregnancy and pregnancy-related disabilities, presumably in response to a growing number of pregnant women in the workplace.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

What's in an Employee Handbook?

by Caroline Earle, Esq.

I will be presenting at an employment law seminar in a few weeks, covering the topic of how to draft employment handbooks and agreements so as to minimize claims. It is a sound topic, worthy of an employer's consideration and discussion.

Employers, especially medium to large sized employers, are well aware of the delicate and often difficult balancing act of laying out appropriate and necessary parameters for workplace rules and conduct while not converting the at-will employment relationship into one seeped in contractual obligation and constraints. I have seen employers twist themselves into knots trying to balance these two objectives. Some succeed and some fail.

I have begun to wonder, however, if perhaps we are all asking the wrong question.

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