Reasonable Accommodation

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed summary judgment for an employer, finding that a former employee’s self-serving declaration and deposition testimony regarding alleged disability discrimination were sufficient to create a triable issue of fact. The Ninth Circuit also held the employer’s denial of the accommodation the employee requested “chilled” the exercise of the employee’s right to request an accommodation. The plaintiff suffered from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract. After being terminated, the plaintiff brought suit against his employer pursuant to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, claiming that it: (1) discriminated against him because of his disability; (2) declined to accommodate his disability; and (3) did not engage in an interactive process to determine possible accommodation for his disability. The plaintiff also alleged that his employer terminated his employment in violation of California public policy. The employer successfully moved for summary judgment before the District Court, and the plaintiff appealed.
Continue Reading Be Careful What You Say—It Might End Up in a Declaration to Defeat Summary Judgment

On January 21, 2015, a California Appeals Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling in Nealy v. City of Santa Monica, 2015 Cal. App. LEXIS 139 (February 13, 2015) granting summary judgment for the City of Santa Monica (“City”) on claims of disability discrimination, failure to provide reasonable accommodation, failure to engage in the interactive process, and retaliation by a City employee.  
Continue Reading Reasonable Accommodation’s Mandate in Employment Statute Does Not Require Employer to Cut Essential Job Functions

Last month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued new Enforcement Guidance (“Guidance”) on pregnancy discrimination in the workplace and related issues.  In its first update in over thirty (30) years, the Commission clarified how Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) interact to protect pregnant employees.  If you are an employer in California, you may be thinking, “Great. Another change in the law and now I am stuck with trying to figure out how these changes apply to my business. Now what do I need to do to make sure the policies and procedures in our handbook are up to date?”

The new guidelines prohibit employers from forcing pregnant workers to take leave and acknowledge that “employers may have to provide light duty for pregnant workers.” After childbirth, lactation is now covered as a pregnancy-related medical condition.

Also, it’s not just women who will benefit.  The guidelines say that when it comes to parental leave, “similarly situated” men and women must be treated on the same terms.

Here are some tips to consider when reviewing and updating your handbooks:


Continue Reading It’s Time to Consider Updating Your Pregnancy Disability Leave Policies