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Americans with Disabilities Act Archives

Lawsuit May Extend Care for Disabled Under ADA

A lawsuit filed on the behalf of eight people who have severe disabilities may prevent their age based medical care coverage from ending. The plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit are in danger of exceeding the age limit or have exceeded the age limit of a medical program for children. The lawsuit argues that any discontinuance of medical care would be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Mother Files ADA Lawsuit Against School for Failing to Ban Perfume

The mother of a 17-year-old Indiana high school student has filed a lawsuit against her son's high school because the mother claims the high school has failed to protect her allergic son from perfume. The lawsuit was filed as a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and was filed on November 12.

The Americans with Disabilities Act celebrates its 20th anniversary this year

The Americans with Disabilities Act celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, but several large employers, which should be well aware of the law, continue to violate the Act. The EEOC recently filed suit against Wal-Mart for violating the ADA when it terminated a long-time employee who requested an accommodation for his disability. The Plaintiff, a cancer survivor with limited function in his right arm due to cancer related surgery, worked as a forklift operator for 12 years. He performed his job well and received outstanding performance evaluations (including an outstanding evaluation on the last day he worked).

New Lawsuit Says Subway is Not Accessible for Disabled Riders

According to a new lawsuit filed against New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is not abiding by the American with Disabilities Act in making New York City's subway system accessible to disabled riders. The class action suit filed in federal court says that subway stations are not wheelchair accessible.

Disablity Discrimination Filings on the Rise

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received more Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complaints in 2009 than in any calendar year since the enactment of the law.  The EEOC, sometimes in partnership with state agencies, investigates claims of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation based on disability, age, religion, race, sex, national origin, and pregnancy.  The EEOC assigns investigators who determine whether or not there is probable or reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred.  Aggrieved employees are required to file ADA claims with the EEOC before filing a lawsuit in federal court.

EEOC Sues American Apparel on ADA Claim

Imagine that you have been diagnosed with cancer. The stress from the diagnosis, the treatment time and the recovery is more than enough to handle. Among all of this, you also do not want to lose your job over the illness's treatment. You request the appropriate amount of medical leave and provide the needed documentation to your employer, and it is approved. It feels as if the concern over work has been addressed. Now imagine, you return from medical leave and your workplace informs you that your position no longer exists.

Welder Gets Trial on Disability Discrimination Claim

Heather Spees worked as one of the few female welders at James Marine, Inc. After she became pregnant and eventually lost her job, she sued her former employer for pregnancy discrimination and disability discrimination. Ms. Spees' welding job was physically demanding and required her to lift heavy equipment, cram herself into small crevices, climb ladders, bear hot temperatures, deal with fumes and dust, and handle overhead equipment. Ms. Spees' supervisor described her as a good employee and even ribbed the male employees about how well she performed in comparison to them. After she became pregnant, her doctors and supervisors both began imposing restrictions on Ms. Spees. Her job duties were altered and her doctors eventually prescribed bed rest.  The employer ultimately made the fatal decision to tell Ms. Spees that it was firing her because she was pregnant. Ms. Spees included with her pregnancy discrimination claim a claim that the employer discriminated against her because of a disability when it transferred her to the "tool room" after learning that she was pregnant. Spees admittedly did have not a permanent disabling condition and it is well established that pregnancy alone does not constitute a disability for purposes of the ADA. So naturally, the main dispute in the disability discrimination case was whether Ms. Spees was "disabled" for purposes of the statute.

Copper company sued under ADA

The EEOC recently filed suit against KobeWieland Copper Products, LLC for refusing to hire an individual as a caster due to his actual and perceived disability. KobeWieland offered the Plaintiff the position on September 24, 2008. When he appeared for work, the Defendant’s HR specialist noticed that the Plaintiff was missing digits on his left hand. Instead of working with the Plaintiff to ensure a reasonable accommodation, the Defendant rescinded the job offer because of its concerns that the Plaintiff could not perform the job. The Plaintiff alleges that he could have performed the job with or without an accommodation, but was not even afforded the opportunity to show that he could do the work, despite offering to demonstrate that he could perform the job.

If the Plaintiff’s allegations are true, the Defendant could be held responsible for paying the Plaintiff’s back wages with interest, reinstating his employment, and paying any costs and attorneys fee he may have accrued.

Woman "Perceived as Disabled" Under ADA

Kimberly Ann Norman, a Union Pacific Railroad (“UNP”) employee, had a number of physical medical conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, requiring short term and long term disability leave in the early 2000s. As with many LTD plans, the insurance company, or in this case, UNP, questioned whether Ms. Norman’s medical conditions were due in part to mental illness, thus subjecting Norman to a limited term of benefits known as a mental illness limit. The company required Ms. Norman to undergo an independent medical examination (“IME”), which resulted in the company’s physician determining that Norman’s long term disability resulted from mental, not physical conditions.

When she was later terminated, Ms. Norman claimed discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) because UNP regarded her as mentally ill and terminated her because of the perceived disability.  Despite the fact that she did not regard herself as mentally disabled, never voluntarily sought treatment for mental disabilities, never received a second opinion from a physician confirming mental disability, and filed appeals and extensions allowing her to collect LTD benefits for her physical disabilities, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Ms. Norman’s argument.  For purposes of the ADA, Ms. Norman established an ADA-qualifying disability because the employer regarded her mentally disabled due to the findings of its own physician in Norman's LTD claim.
 
The “perceived as disabled” rule prevents employers, insurance companies, and plans from arguing in LTD cases that the employee’s disabilities are rooted in mental illness, and then turning around and arguing in an ADA discrimination case that the employee does not have an ADA-qualifying mental disability.

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