When it comes to lawsuits related to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the concern among many employers in Florida has long been that any condition could become the basis of an ADA claim. However, two recent court decisions show that fear isn't grounded in reality.
Disabled Florida residents in the workforce who believe that they have been a victim of employment discrimination may have legal recourse under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The ADA is federal law that prohibits local and state governments, private employers, labor organizations, employment agencies and labor management committees from engaging in employment discrimination against qualified individuals. The employment practices covered by the ADA include hiring, training, recruiting, making job assignments, firing, giving benefits and any other activities pertaining to employment.
Roughly one in every five adults in Florida and the rest of the United States experiences some form of mental illness in any given year. This is according to information from the National Alliance on Mental Health.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has shown its intent to enforce two of its priorities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Those are company policies of 'leave limits" and full recovery policies. Some of the companies that have been targeted have a business present in and around Boca Raton, Florida.
Many employees in Florida who have disabilities may not report those disabilities to their human resource departments. Researchers at the Center for Talent Innovation surveyed more than 3,500 white-collar employees and found that almost one-third of full-time, college-educated workers had disabilities. Nearly two-thirds of those disabilities are invisible. However, just over 20 percent of people with disabilities identified themselves to human resources, and only 39 percent told their managers.
On Sept. 28, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against Home Depot on behalf of an employee it says was terminated after an emergency related to a disability. As a general rule, employers in Florida and around the country must reasonably accommodate workers who have a disability. According to the EEOC lawsuit, Home Depot failed to accommodate a disabled woman before terminating her. She suffered from IBS and fibromyalgia.
In some cases, Florida employees who are terminated after taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act may find that they are facing discrimination for other reasons besides retaliation for the time off. A Tennessee court will be hearing a case involving a home economics teacher who was let go during FMLA leave. The teacher said the school violated the Americans With Disabilities Act and was also guilty of age discrimination.
Florida residents may have heard about a case involving a transgender woman who will be allowed to sue her employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The court ruled that she could proceed with an employment discrimination lawsuit because gender dysphoria is covered by the ADA. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2014 and claimed that the woman was fired after false accusations were made against her.
People in Florida that once had cancer might still face some workplace discrimination despite the 2009 amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act that are intended to protect them. The Journal of Oncology Practice published a study that found that since those amendments were enacted, employees were more likely to file claims dealing with workplace relations and employment terms. The number of claims concerning termination, hiring and reasonable accommodation was relatively unchanged. After the amendments passed, courts were more likely to conclude that claims pertaining to employment terms had merit and roughly equally inclined to find that claims in the other categories had credence.
Florida workers should be aware that complaints related to disability seem to be on the rise in workplaces across the country. Data released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission shows that workplace discrimination complaints increased in 2016.