This week in 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law. The DOL is celebrating 25 years of the ADA this month. The law is designed to eliminate discrimination against persons with disabilities and strive for full participation for all people in economic opportunities and in independent living. The ADA has since been amended in 2009. More information on the anniversary is available on the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division website, by clicking here.
Specifically, descriptions are important under the ADA as well. They provide a framework to review whether an applicant with a disability is otherwise qualified to perform the job. They, then, allow the employer to consider what accommodations would be necessary for the applicant to handle the essential functions of the job. That, in turn, leads to clarity on whether accommodation would be reasonable.
The ADA has no express requirement to adopt job descriptions; however, the law requires that applicants and employees be capable of performing the essential functions of the position, with or without reasonable accommodation. When defining essential job functions, the EEOC reviews job descriptions written before an employer advertises a job opening. Thus, employers should be accurate in reflecting those essential functions, and generic wording does not provide sufficient detail when questions arise. Describing the specific tasks that a position requires allows for compliance with ADA and EEOC guidelines and a basis to defend your actions if you are questioned.
Wilson Worley attorney George Samuel asks, “Is Requesting Psychological Counseling the Same as Requesting a Medical Exam?” For his discussion of the recent Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion in Kroll v. White Lake Ambulance Authority, click here.
The new ADA accessibility standards are in place, with most having become effective March 15. The standards, found in the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, were originally announced in the summer of 2010 with regulations published during September 2010 in the Federal Register. These standards cover hotels, bars, stores, museums, schools, and eateries—in fact, most buildings that are open to the public. Among other requirements, they provide that counters and shelves be set no higher than four feet high along with reachable objects like fire alarms and add to the number of designated handicap parking spaces for vans.
Attorney George Samuel of Wilson Worley has written a new article for our firm’s employment clients on a recent opinion from a federal circuit court of appeals on making reasonable accommodation for an employee under the ADA. He writes:
“The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed a District Court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the employer where the employee alleged that the employer did not reasonably accommodate her alleged disability: narcolepsy. In Regan v. Faurecia Auto. Seating, Inc., 2012 FED App. 0130P (6th Cir.), Faurecia, an automobile seat manufacturer and the employer, determined that the then-existing morning shift hours in Regan’s department of 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. were not efficient because the materials needed to complete the tasks of Regan’s department were only delivered after 6:00 a.m. from engineering departments within the company as those departments worked on a later schedule. Therefore, Faurecia modified the morning shift for Regan’s department to 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. effective a few weeks later. . . .”
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How many employees must an employer have for a particular law to apply?
100 Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act)
50 Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
20 Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
15 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
15 Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)
15 Title VII
1 Unemployment Compensation Law
1 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
1 Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
There are several other state laws as well, including: 5 Tennessee Workers’ Compensation (1 for construction/coal mining), 8 Tennessee Human Rights Act, and 100 Tennessee Maternity Leave Act.