ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)

7th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment for Employer in FMLA Lawsuit

On March 9, 2022, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of the defendant employer in a lawsuit filed by a former employee, who alleged that the employer violated the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") by terminating her employment four days after she returned to work from an FMLA leave of absence.  Anderson v. Nations Lending Corporation, No. 21-1885 (7th Cir. March 9, 2022).  She filed a federal lawsuit for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as for interference and retaliation under the FMLA.  In an FMLA interference lawsuit, the employee has the burden to demonstrate that the interference occurred.  To prevail on an FMLA interference claim, a plaintiff must establish that: (1) she was eligible for the FMLA; (2) her employer was covered by the FMLA; (3) she was entitled to leave under the FMLA; (4) she provided notice of her intent to take leave; and (5) her employer denied her FMLA benefits to which she was entitled.  At issue in this case was the fifth element.

Americans with Disabilities Act--Direct Threat Analysis

On February 11, 2022, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer in a disability discrimination lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA").  Pontinen v. US Steel Corporation, No. 21-1612 (7th Cir. Feb. 11, 2022).  The employer rescinded an offer of employment after determining that the potential employee's disability--seizure disorder--posed a direct threat to himself and to others in the workplace.  The 7th Circuit concluded that summary judgment was appropriate because the undisputed evidence demonstrated that the disability was not the 'but for' cause of the rescission of the job offer. 

Who is a Disabled Employee under the Illinois Human Rights Act?

On November 23, 2021, the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District, reversed an order of the trial court, that had dismissed the plaintiff's disability discrimination complaint on the ground that he was not disabled within the meaning of the Illinois Human Rights Act (the "Act").  Jackson v. TSA Processing Chicago, Inc., et al., 2021 IL App (2d) 200769 (2nd Dist. Nov. 23, 2021).  The plaintiff alleged that the defendants discriminated against him on the basis of his disability in violation of the Act.  At issue on appeal was whether he is disabled under the Act.

Title VII Race Discrimination Lawsuit Fails

On April 8, 2021, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of the district court that granted summary judgment in favor of an employer on a former employee's claims for race, age, and disability discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Gamble v. PCA US LLC, No. 20-2254 (7th Cir. April 8, 2021).  The employer fired the plaintiff for violating its anti-harassment policy for a second time.  The plaintiff asserted that he was treated unfairly during the employer's investigation, and that he was ultimately fired on account of his race, age, and disability.  He sued the employer for employment discrimination in federal court.

What Is Required For An Employee To Prove Employment Discrimination?

On February 17, 2021, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in a federal employment discrimination lawsuit for age, sex, race, and disability discrimination, as well as retaliation.  Igasaki v. Illinois Department Of Financial And Professional Regulation, No. 18-3351 (7th Cir. 2/17/2021).  The plaintiff, a 62-year-old gay Japanese man with gout, worked as a staff attorney for the State of Illinois.  He alleged five claims: (1) race discrimination based on his Asian ethnicity in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), arising from the treatment of his job performance and his employment termination; (2) sex discrimination in violation of Title VII, arising from gender stereotyping and a hostile work environment based on his sexual orientation; (3) age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), arising from the treatment of his job performance and employment termination; (4) retaliation in violation of Title VII, arising from his employment termination after he filed his EEOC charge of discrimination; and (5) disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), arising from the failure to accommodate his gout disability.

7th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment on Failure to Accommodate Claim

On January 14, 2021, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer-defendant in a failure to accommodate lawsuit under the federal Rehabilitation Act.  Conners v. Robert Wilke, No. 19-2426 (7th Cir. Jan. 14, 2021).  The plaintiff worked as a nurse at a VA hospital.  Her job duties included treating and observing patients, giving immunizations, managing the front desk, teaching classes, and filling out paperwork.  After she was involved in an automobile accident, her injuries impeded her ability to perform most of her nursing duties.  Her supervisor initially permitted her to retain her position, but reduced her job responsibilities to only teaching and paperwork.  Subsequently, the VA concluded that she could not perform the essential duties of her position, even with reasonable accommodations, and it terminated her employment.

7th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment on ADA Claim

On December 30, 2020, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer-defendant in a federal lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA").  McAllister v. Innovation Ventures, LLC, No. 20-1779 (7th Cir. 12/30/2020).  The plaintiff, a machine operator, was injured in a car accident and consequently could not return to work.  The defendant terminated her employment since she could still not return to work after she had exhausted her leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA").  The defendant maintained a company policy that employees who were unable to return to work after six months of leave would be terminated.  The plaintiff filed a failure-to-accommodate lawsuit under the ADA.

Employers may Require Employees to get the COVID-19 Vaccination

According to recently published EEOC Guidance (summarized below), the availability of COVID-19 vaccinations raises employment law questions under the ADA, GINA, and Title VII.  These laws do not prohibit employers from requiring their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine or even administering the vaccine to their employees themselves, except under certain circumstances.  Pre-vaccination medical screening of employees, however, raises a whole host of employment law concerns, of which employers should familiarize themselves.

7th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment for Employer in Title VII and ADA Employment Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuit

On December 8, 2020, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer-defendant in a lawsuit filed by a social worker against the Chicago Board of Eduction alleging gender and disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, and retaliation.  Williams v. Board of Education of City of Chicago, No. 19-3152 (7th Cir. 12/8/2020).  The plaintiff alleged that the defendant failed to award him certain positions on account of his gender and disability, as well as in retaliation for his protected activity of requesting an accommodation for his disability and filing discrimination claims.

7th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment for Employer in Failure-to-Accommodate Lawsuit

On November 23, 2020, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer-defendant in a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service under the Rehabilitation Act, which is the equivalent of the Americans with Disabilities Act for federal employees.  Vargas v. Louis DeJoy, Postmaster General, No. 20-1116 (7th Cir. Nov. 23, 2020).  After he aggravated an old foot injury on the job, the plaintiff was placed on work restrictions that prohibited him from lifting and carrying heavy weights.  This created a problem for him because his job duties included carrying heavy loads and packages.  He requested accommodations from the employer, but without any alternative jobs for him to do, his accommodation request was denied.  Consequently, he had to take paid sick leave for several weeks and eventually went on unpaid leave.  He sued his employer under Title VII for race discrimination and retaliation, and for disability discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act.

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