Category Archives: Disability Discrimination

Question #274: Opining on Obesity

Question: We have a large meat processing facility in Northern Minnesota. We were recently hiring for one of our positions in the plant requiring work with large mechanical equipment. Because we consider this position to be safety sensitive, we require candidates for this position to pass a medical examination prior to hire. One of the candidates for the open position was rejected because her BMI exceeded our qualification standards for such safety sensitive positions. This seemed reasonable to me, but I thought I should check – can we deny employment on the basis of weight without violating the ADA?

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Quirky Question #271: We’ve Got a Worried Waiter

Question: We recently interviewed a candidate for a server position at our restaurant. During the interview, he informed us that he has an anxiety disorder, which causes him to have panic attacks out of the blue. Do we have to hire him? What if he had a panic attack in the middle of serving a customer?

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Quirky Question #270: A Win for Wellness Plans

Question: Our company offers employees a self-funded and self-insured health plan. We’d now like to implement a wellness program.  Can we require employees to complete a health risk assessment which requests personal medical information before they are eligible to participate in the health plan?  I’ve heard that asking for employee medical information, even if it’s pursuant to a wellness program, could violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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Quirky Question #267: An Equine Accommodation?

Question: Our employee regularly uses a service dog in our office, which helps him with stability and maintaining balance around the office, which can be challenging for him due to several medical conditions he has. However, yesterday he came in and said he would like to use a miniature horse as a service animal instead of the dog, because it is preferable given his tall stature, among other reasons. We were fine with the dog – who doesn’t love an office dog? But a horse, really? Do we have to accommodate this?

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Quirky Question #261, When will our employee return?

Question:

We’re a large company with offices in many locations, including in California, Minnesota, Washington and New York City.  We often have disabled employees provide doctors’ notes that say they are unable to work, but that do not provide an expected date the employee will be cleared medically to return.  When we ask these individuals for a return date, they usually say they don’t know or that their doctor told them they need to be off work for “as long as necessary.”  We have no idea whether this means one week or one year.  Do we have to grant employees leave if there is no end in sight?  It makes planning on our end very difficult.

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Quirky Question #259, The FMLA and the ADA: Joined at the Hip

Question:

I work in my company’s HR department and we just had an employee ask for additional time off, even though we’ve already given the employee a bunch of time off we are required to under the FMLA.  I wanted to say no but my co-worker here in HR says I have to grant the extra time off.  Who is right?

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