Wyatt Employment Law Report


Sixth Circuit Issues Ruling Regarding Modified Work Schedules

By Amanda Warford Edge

adult-africa-african-1089550 (1)Last week, the Sixth Circuit issued an opinion in Hostettler v. College of Wooster, — F.3d — (6th Cir. July 17, 2018), reminding employers that determining the essential functions of a position is a highly fact-specific endeavor.  In that case, the College of Wooster had hired Heidi Hostettler in 2013 when she was four months pregnant.  She worked as a full-time HR Generalist.  After giving birth to her child, Hostettler experienced severe postpartum depression and separation anxiety.  As a result, her doctor determined it was medically necessary that Hostettler work a reduced schedule, working on a part-time basis for the “foreseeable future.”  After two months of working a reduced schedule, Hostettler was fired for being “unable to return to [her] assigned position of HR Generalist in a full time capacity.”

Hostettler brought suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”)¹,  Continue reading


Leave a comment

EEOC Issues New Resource Document Addressing Employer-Provided Leave and the Americans with Disabilities Act

By Michelle Tolle High

EEOCOn May 9, 2016, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a new resource document addressing the rights of employees with disabilities who seek leave as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  According to the EEOC, the document does not create a new agency policy, but is a resource document explaining how existing EEOC policies and guidance apply to specific situations.  It is intended to consolidate the existing guidance on ADA and leave into one document, and to address issues that frequently arise regarding leave as a reasonable accommodation.  In addition, the document addresses undue hardship issues and the amount or length of leave required, the frequency of leave, the predictability of intermittent leave, and the impact of such leave on an employer’s operations.

The resource document provided by the EEOC indicates that some employers may not know that they have to modify existing policies that limit the amount of leave employees can take when an employee with a disability needs additional leave as a reasonable accommodation.  It also addresses the fact that Continue reading


Leave a comment

The EEOC Weighs in on HIV-Positive Workers

By Amanda Warford Edge

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has long considered HIV infection to be a disability within the scope of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). From 1997 to 2014, the EEOC received in excess of 4,000 charges alleging ADA violations based on HIV status. In 2014, the EEOC resolved 197 charges and obtained over $800,000 for individuals who filed charges based on HIV status. The EEOC has also filed several lawsuits over the past few years against employers based on claims alleging failure to hire, discrimination and failure to accommodate individuals with HIV.

On December 1, 2015, in conjunction with World AIDS Day, the EEOC posted two publications that address HIV-positive workers. Through these publications, the EEOC makes clear that employers “cannot rely on myths or stereotypes about HIV infection when deciding what [they] can safely or effectively do.”

The first publication, entitled “Living with HIV Infection: Your Legal Rights in the Workplace Under the ADA,” removes all doubt that those with HIV: (1) have workplace privacy rights; (2) are protected from discrimination because of Continue reading


Leave a comment

The EEOC’s New Proposed Rule: Long-Awaited Workplace Wellness Regulations

By Leila G. O’Carra

Last year, the EEOC sued three different employers (Honeywell, Orion and Flambeau),1 claiming that the companies’ workplace wellness programs violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. Except for the EEOC’s court papers in these cases, employers have had little guidance on the ADA’s requirements for wellness programs. On April 20, 2015, the EEOC finally revealed its position.

worksite wellnessThe EEOC’s proposed rule applies to employers with 15 or more employees that offer workplace wellness programs that include disability-related inquiries or medical exams. According to the proposed rule, covered wellness programs must be reasonably designed to promote health or prevent disease. Further, covered wellness programs must be voluntary. That is, the employer: (1) may not require employees to participate; (2) may not deny coverage under any of its group health plans for non-participation (or limit benefits except as specifically allowed in the regulation); (3) may not take adverse employment action or retaliate against employees who do not participate; and (4) if the program is part of a group health plan, must provide a detailed notice with information about the program. The notice must be reasonably likely to be understood by Continue reading


Leave a comment

U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division Rules that School District Staff Must Assist Student with Handling of Service Dog

By Jason A. Lopp

On April 13, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division issued a ruling stemming from an investigation of the Gates-Chili Central School District (DJ No. 204-53-128) located in Rochester, New York. A complaint was filed against the school district by the parent of a student attending elementary school in the District. According to the ruling, the complaint alleged that the District refused to permit the child’s service dog, who is trained as a seizure alert dog, in school unless the parent provided a separate, full-time, adult handler. Due to the student’s physical limitations, she required intermittent assistance in tethering and untethering the dog and with vocalizing a limited number of commands. While it appears that the District provided a 1:1 aide for the child, the aide was not authorized to assist with the service animal and was not provided for all school-related activities, such as on the bus.

The U.S. DOJ found that providing the requested assistance to the student “falls well within the range of support and assistance that school staff provides to young children day in and day out. Accordingly, the District must reasonably modify its current ‘hands off’ policy” with respect to the service dog. The full decision can be found here, and is an interesting and important read for all school districts and similarly situated entities governed by Title II of the ADA.


Leave a comment

U.S. Supreme Court Sets Forth Test for Evaluating Pregnancy Discrimination Claims

By Michelle High

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k), dictates that “women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same” as other employees who are “similar in their ability or inability to work.”  The Act has two sections.  The first section provides that employers can’t discriminate on the basis of pregnancy because it would be sex discrimination and the second section provides that “women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes . . . as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability to work.”  The second section of the law has been the source of repeated questions for employers and employees alike.

pregnancyIn Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., a newly released 6-3 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court has provided a test detailing when the Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires an employer that provides work accommodations to non-pregnant employees to extend such accommodations to pregnant employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.

Peggy Young was a driver with UPS.  When she became pregnant, her obstetrician advised her not to lift more than 20 pounds.   Generally, UPS drivers were expected to carry packages of up to 70 pounds, but the company offered accommodations to those injured on the job; those with conditions recognized as Continue reading


Leave a comment

Court Holds That Requiring an Employee to Undergo Psyhological Counseling May Violate ADA

By Edwin S. Hopson

On August 22, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Kroll v. West Lake Ambulance Authority, ___ F.3d ___, Case No. 10-2348, held that requiring an employee to undergo psychological counseling may violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The ADA states:

“A covered entity shall not require a medical examinationand shall not make inquiries of an employee as to whether such employee is an individual with a disability or as to the nature or severity of the disability, unless such examination or inquiry is shown to be job-related and consistent with business necessity.”

The plaintiff had had an affair with a co-worker and after an incident related to that during with which it was reported that the plaintiff had been screaming into her phone while on an emergency run, her supervisor required her to undergo psychological counseling before returning to work.  She refused and never returned to work.  A suit was filed claiming, among other things, an ADA violation. The district court granted summary judgment dismissing the case and the former employee appealed.

The appellate court in reaching its decision relied heavily on EEOC guidance.  That guidance consists of seven factors:

(1) whether the test is administered by a health care professional;

(2) whether the test is interpreted by a health care professional;

(3) whether the test is designed to reveal an impairment or physical or

mental health;

(4) whether the test is invasive;

(5) whether the test measures an employee’s performance of a task or

measures his/her physiological responses to performing the task;

(6) whether the test normally is given in a medical setting; and,

(7) whether medical equipment is used.

The court found that factors one, two and three were present, and reversed and remanded the case to allow more development of a record as to the remaining factors.