At the recent ALI-ABA program on Advanced Employment Law and Litigation, two high level officials of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission spoke on the major issues that will face employers at their agency this year.
One emphasis will be in the field of disability discrimination. The EEOC has issued new regulations which auger an increase in claims and cases in this area. The definition of disability is now so broad that there may be few employees who do not reach that threshold, whether the disability is temporary, or the employee has recovered or is “regarded as” having the disability. The emphasis for employers will be on whether the alleged victim can perform the essential functions of the job and what reasonable accommodation can be made to allow him or her to qualify for the position. Employers are well advised to pay strict attention to job descriptions to identify the essential functions of each job and to engage in a discussion of what accommodations are “reasonable” before rejecting an applicant with a disability or refusing to make a particular accommodation on the grounds that it is not reasonable. A comprehensive analysis of the major changes in ADA enforcement can be found in the firm’s Act Now Advisory.