7th Circuit Weighs in on Obesity
By: Adrian Hoppes
The Seventh Circuit released a decision to provide clarity regarding when obesity is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The Seventh Circuit held that an employee can only succeed on an ADA claim if the employee can establish one of two things: 1) the obesity is an actual impairment, or 2) the employer believes the obesity is an impairment. This court determined that obesity is only a physical impairment under the ADA if there is an underlying physical impairment. Please note, this decision only applies to employers within the Seventh Circuit. Although many courts have sided with this court, a small number of district courts have held the opposite. Until the U.S. Supreme Court tips the scale on this weighty issue, it is imperative for employers to verify the precedent in their jurisdictions.
COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:
The determination whether obesity is caused by an underlying condition is fact-intensive and employers should engage in interactive discussions to determine if the employee is legally protected for his or her condition. In addition, although weight is not a stand-alone protected category under the FEHA, some cities, such as San Francisco and Santa Cruz, have enacted ordinances prohibiting discrimination on the basis of weight. If you are currently dealing with an employee situation where obesity comes into play, contact the experts at the Saqui Law Group, a division of Dowling Aaron Incorporated.
EEOC Settles Case for $2.7 Million
By: Rebecca Hause-Schultz
Employer Crossmark works in Walmarts and Sam’s Clubs to conduct in-store promotions and events, but the EEOC says it unlawfully automatically denied requests for any accommodation for its employees to sit down on the job beyond ten minutes for every two hours worked. The EEOC sued on behalf of workers, saying that the workers were entitled to a reasonable accommodation and should not have been terminated for asking for an accommodation beyond the permission to sit ten minutes for every two hours worked. In addition to a $2.7 million monetary settlement, Crossmark also agreed to designate a qualified Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) coordinator at the Company, to ensure compliance with the ADA and provision of reasonable accommodations. Prior to denying a request for accommodation, Crossmark is required to consult a third-party resource to confirm all possible reasonable accommodations have been considered. You can read the EEOC’s press release here.
COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:
Requests for accommodation can be a minefield for employers and lead to large damages exposures for even small violations. If you have questions about how to handle requests for accommodation or the interactive process, contact the experts at the Saqui Law Group, a division of Dowling Aaron Incorporated.