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Showing 4 posts in Restrictions.

Taking Work Restrictions Seriously: The EEOC Is Targeting “100% Healed” Policies as Systemic Disability Discrimination

A “100-percent healed” policy refers to a practice or procedure that mandates that an employee be released to work by his physician without any restrictions before he may return to work. For example, if an employee who took FMLA leave for carpal tunnel surgery was released to return to work with a reasonable restriction, e.g., 10 minute break after every hour of prolonged typing, a 100-percent healed policy would prevent the employee from returning to work, perhaps altogether if the restriction becomes permanent. More ›

Trust the Process: Relying on Existing Law or Policy is not an ADA Defense Says Third Circuit

Many times, employers evaluate disability claims by simply checking the boxes. It’s easy to develop tunnel vision, especially when the employer feels the issue is narrowly defined by an existing law or policy, e.g., a law or employer policy requiring that certain employees be vaccinated. However, this narrow frame of mind may cause employers to miss the complete picture. A recent 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals (DE, NJ, PA) decision illustrates the consequences of missing the big picture. In Ruggiero v. Mount Nittany Medical Center, the court addressed the interplay between a hospital’s vaccination policy and the ADA, holding held an employee’s ADA claim could proceed because the hospital failed to engage in the interactive process. The Court held the hospital had a duty to engage in the process once aware of her disability and request for accommodation, regardless of its policy requiring that all employees be vaccinated. More ›

EEOC Lawsuit Reminds Employers to Accommodate Pregnant Workers As It Does Other Employees

Reminding employers of their obligation to accommodate pregnant employees in the same manner as non-pregnant employees, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against a North Carolina nursing center. The complaint alleges the center violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (PDA) when it terminated two nursing assistants because of their pregnancy-related restrictions. In one case, the center placed the nursing assistant on unpaid leave when she asked the center to accommodate a pulling, lifting, and pushing restriction placed on her by her physician, then terminated her employment. The center terminated the second employee for similar reasons. The EEOC alleges the nursing center had the ability to accommodate such restrictions because they accommodated similar restrictions for non-pregnant employees who suffered work injuries.The EEOC is seeking declaratory and compensatory relief, as well as other monetary relief, for the terminated employees. More ›

Punitive Damages Award not Upheld Against Employer when Amount is Considered Excessive

After suffering multiple work-related injuries to his shoulder, a package-car driver was released to work with restrictions by the company doctor. A company labor manager said the work restrictions meant that the employee could no longer work as a package driver. A specialist gave the employee the same diagnosis but made the work restrictions permanent. The employee’s own doctor said the employee could return to work without any restrictions. The employee was then re-examined by the company doctor and cleared to work. After a conversation with the company’s occupational health manager, however, the company doctor changed his opinion to match that of the specialist. As a result, the employee was barred from returning to work. The employee filed a grievance under the subject collective bargaining agreement, and a fourth doctor was asked to examine the employee. That doctor requested to run a functional capacity exam to test the strength of the employee’s shoulder but was told that the company would not pay for any testing. Thus, the fourth doctor made his evaluation based on the employee’s medical records alone and concluded that the employee could not perform the essential functions of his job. Ultimately, the employee was fired and he sued the employer for retaliation. A jury awarded the employee $630,307 in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit found that the evidence presented supported a reasonable inference in support of the employee’s retaliation claim. The court ultimately concluded, however, that the jury’s $2 million punitive damage award was excessive and violated the employer’s federal due process rights. Employers must ensure that adverse action is never based on an employee exercising his or her right to file a claim based on a work-related injury.

Jones v. United Parcel Serv. Inc., No. 09-3275 (10th Cir. Oct. 24, 2011)

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