Americans with Disabilities Act

Over the past several years, health care entities have increasingly become the target of private and government plaintiffs complaining of disability discrimination. A crescendo of litigation has engulfed the health care industry—and most notably of late, “drive-by” litigation attacking the perceived failure of health care entity facilities and websites to accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities consistent with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Read the full article below or here: The Rising Tide of ADA Litigation Against Health Care Entities (©Copyright 2018, American Health Lawyers Association, Washington, DC. Reprint permission granted.)

Continue Reading The Rising Tide of ADA Litigation Against Health Care Entities

On April 19, my colleague Andrew Bernstein and I will be discussing the increasingly complex web of federal, state, and local leave and accommodation laws that employers must navigate. As many companies are aware, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act provides up to 12 weeks (and in some cases, up to 26 weeks) of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees and the Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations, which may under some circumstances include flexible schedules and leaves of absence, to qualified individuals with disabilities.

Continue Reading Mintz Levin 4th Annual Employment Law Summit – Managing the Increasingly Complex Web of Leave and Accommodation Requirements

March Madness presents one of those occasions where your employees’ diets and exercise may fall by the wayside, and by the wayside, we mean potentially off a cliff.  And when this happens, your workforce is increasing not just their weight and risk of disease, but it may also increase your cost to employ them.  The productivity time you’re losing when they stop working to watch the games is nothing compared to the loss of productivity and increased health care costs due to poor health.

Continue Reading March Flabness: Wellness Programs, the ADA, and the Rising Costs of Employer-Provided Health Coverage

On January 25, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued it much-anticipated decision in EEOC v. Flambeau, Inc. This case involved the regulation of employer-sponsored wellness plans and programs. Since 2006, the rules surrounding wellness programs had been modestly well settled—for tax and benefits purposes. But little was known about the impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). At issue in Flambeau is which of two ADA provisions—the voluntary employee health program exception or the safe harbor for “bona fide benefit plans”—also apply to wellness plans. The lower court, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, ruled against the EEOC, applying the more flexible bona fide benefit plan exception. The EEOC appealed.

The Seventh Circuit’s decision on appeal is a model of judicial restraint. (This is the doctrine that holds that cases ought to be decided on the narrowest grounds possible.) Flambeau “won” on appeal only in the narrow sense that it avoided liability. The Court did not reach the statutory or regulatory issues before it. Rather, it disposed of the case on procedural grounds.

Continue Reading EEOC v. Flambeau, Judicial Restraint, and the (Uncertain) Future of Employer-Sponsored Wellness Programs

The employer community was sent into a frenzy with the Department of Labor’s release on May 18, 2016 of its final white-collar overtime regulations.  Just two days before however, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also released its own final regulations regarding employer wellness programs.

Continue Reading In Case You Missed It: The EEOC Sneaks in Its Final Wellness Program Rule Ahead of The DOL’s New OT Rule

Last month, a district court in Wisconsin dealt a blow to the EEOC and the future of its proposed ADA wellness program regulations.  In EEOC v. Flambeau, Inc., the court held that that an employer did not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act by requiring its employees to participate in a wellness program, including by undergoing health risk assessments and biometric screenings, as a precondition of participating in the employer’s health insurance plan.

Continue Reading Federal Court Says Employer’s All-or-Nothing Requirement that Employees Submit to Wellness Program or Lose Health Insurance is ADA-Safe

Employers are generally aware of the obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act to engage in an “interactive process” with employees who require accommodations in order to perform their duties, but identifying the point at which this obligation is met is far from an exact science.  In two recent decisions, the Second and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeal clarified that an employer must only offer a reasonable accommodation that does not unduly burden business operations, and need not continue to provide more generous accommodations or investigate alternative accommodations that an employee has not proposed.

Continue Reading Recent Federal Appellate Decisions Acknowledge Limits on Employer’s Obligation to Engage in ADA Interactive Process

On April 16, 2015, the EEOC published proposed regulations setting forth its position on the use of physical examinations under employment-based wellness programs.  This comes as welcome guidance to employers who have implemented, or who hope to implement, workplace wellness programs that include biometric tests or physical examinations as part of the process for providing financial rewards to employees.

Continue Reading The EEOC Provides Welcome Guidance on Employment-Based Wellness Plans

Last Friday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sitting en banc held that telecommuting up to four days a week was not a reasonable accommodation under the ADA for a disabled Ford Motor Co. employee.  The decision, EEOC v. Ford Motor Co., provided a win for employers (and a setback for the EEOC) by reversing an earlier decision issued by a divided panel of three Sixth Circuit judges, which had held that telecommuting was a reasonable accommodation for this particular employee.

Continue Reading En Banc Sixth Circuit Decision Holds That Telecommuting Was Not a Reasonable Accommodation Under the Americans with Disabilities Act for Ford Employee

Written by Alden J. Bianchi

While my entries have focused principally on the employer shared responsibility rules of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), every once in a while an item comes along that nevertheless grabs my attention. The treatment of wellness plans at the hands of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is such an item.

Continue Reading The Affordable Care Act—Countdown to Compliance for Employers, Week 4: EEOC v. Honeywell and the Future of Wellness Programs