Wyatt Employment Law Report


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A Room with a View – The Costly Consequences of Ignoring a Small Request for Accommodation

By Debra H. Dawahare

As everyone knows by now, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires covered employers to offer reasonable accommodations to employees with conditions that substantially limit major life activities.  During the statute’s early history, the courts tended to interpret the definition of “disability” narrowly.  Congress responded with the ADAAA, scolding the courts for their narrow interpretations and requiring employers to assume that almost anyone requesting an accommodation is disabled.

 In a recent federal case, a school district in Wisconsin chose to contest an employee’s claim of disability, and ended up with an adverse trial verdict of almost $2M.  In Ekstran v. School District of Somerset (WI) the complainant was a kindergarten teacher with Seasonal Affective Disorder (“SAD”), whose assignment to a windowless classroom exacerbated her condition. The symptoms of SAD include depression, fatigue, and panic attacks.

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EEOC Revises Its Notice to Employees Poster

By Edwin S. Hopson

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has revised its Notice to Employees poster that all employers with 15 or more employees must post. The poster was revised to include information about the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 which is effective November 21, 2009, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008.  The EEOC website link to be used to order the new poster on line is:

http://archive.eeoc.gov/posterform.html

According to the EEOC press release, there are several ways for employers to comply with the posting requirements of the law:

1. Print the supplement below and post it alongside EEOC’s September 2002 “EEO is the Law” poster or OFCCP’s August 2008 “EEO is the Law” poster.

2. Print and post the EEOC’s November 2009 version of the “EEO is the Law” poster.

3. Order a new poster through the EEOC Clearinghouse at the address provided below. Please note that the EEOC poster is on backorder and will be shipped when the poster becomes available in the near future.

The new poster will also be available in Spanish, Chinese and Arabic before the GINA statute becomes effective on November 21, 2009.

If you need more than ten copies of the poster, you should contact:

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Clearinghouse

P.O. Box 541

Annapolis Junction, MD 20701

Fax: (301) 206-9789 or call: 1-800-669-3362 (voice) 1-800-800-3302 (TTY)

To order the poster, complete and submit the form contained on the EEOC website link referenced above.