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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law

06 Sep Is Severe Obesity A Disability Under The ADA? The Seventh Circuit Will Decide.

Advocates for the obese are arguing that the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit should overturn a holding that obesity does not constitute a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).   The case at hand started in March 2016, when former Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus driver Mark Richardson sued the CTA for violation of the ADA, claiming he was discriminated against because of his severe obesity. The CTA moved for summary judgment on the grounds that obesity does not…

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20 Jul Sixth Circuit Holds Full-Time Presence at Work not Essential Simply Because an Employer Says So

On July 17, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reminded employers that determining the essential functions of a position is a highly fact specific endeavor in which categorical rules do not apply.   In Hosttetler v. College of Wooster, Heidi Hostettler worked as a full-time HR Generalist. After giving birth to her child, Hostettler experienced severe postpartum depression and separation anxiety. As a result, Hostetller’s physician determined it was medically necessary that she worked a reduced schedule and recommended that Hostettler…

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03 Jul Establishing Direct Threat: How to Leverage the “Individualized Assessment”

Successfully asserting the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) direct threat affirmative defense is difficult.  It is disfavored because of the fear that well-intentioned concerns of injury will otherwise result in qualified disabled individuals being excluded from work.  A recent federal trial court decision, involving an operator at an ExxonMobil chemical plant shows how an employer can establish a direct threat disqualification in the face of conflicting medical opinions. The case is Spencer-Martin v ExxonMobil Corp., M.D. La., No. 16-789 (June 15, 2018).   The ADA’s…

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31 Oct Attention, Class: Seventh Circuit Finds Preferred Teaching Methods Not Protected Activity Under ADA and Section 504

  A former special education teacher, who claimed to have engaged in a protected activity when she defended her teaching methods following a negative performance evaluation, could not show that the school district discriminated against her when it terminated her. Finding no evidence of discrimination, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the school in Frakes v. Peoria School District No. 150.   After receiving an “unsatisfactory” rating based on several deficiencies,…

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29 Sep The Gradual But Decided Shift to a Much More Complex World of Employment Law

  On Oct. 4, my colleagues (and fellow Currents bloggers) Jeanine Gozdecki and Doug Oldham will be presenting a program focused on increasing complexity in the employment law arena. Employment law accelerated in the 1960s when Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was passed, as well as many similar state discrimination laws. At that time, things seemed pretty cut and dried – treat people equally to avoid liability. Many factors have made the world of employment law far more complicated since then:   The number of protected…

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