Human Resources News & Insights

Top 7 ADA developments you need to know about now

A lot of new legal ground was just broken with the ADA over the past few months. 

Here’s a rundown of what employers need to know (click the links for HR Morning’s breakdown of each topic):

  1. EEOC issues new enforcement guidance on retaliation. The EEOC recently finalized guidance on what is considered retaliation under the ADA. It includes a lot of examples of actions that your managers may not have considered before that can be deemed retaliation against employees for exercising rights under the ADA. Example: Do your managers know that transferring an employee to a harder or dirtier job is now considered a “materially adverse action” that could be considered retaliatory? (For more examples, click here.)
  2. Feds are looking for associational ADA discrimination. This lesser-known form of discrimination under the ADA is starting to cost employers a lot of money. The concept is this: Employers can’t take an adverse employment action against an individual because he or she may have to care for — or is closely linked to — a disabled individual. (For more on this new enforcement hot spot, click here.)
  3. Turns out, you can refuse to hire someone because they’re too fat. A U.S. court of appeals recently handed down a ruling that explains what conditions have to be met for an employee’s (or applicant’s) obesity to be a protected disability under the ADA. (Click here to see what the court had to say.)
  4. EEOC says: Don’t tell staff this about ADA-protected workers. Turns out, what you say to your employees about a co-worker’s ADA condition or claim could lead to a retaliation charge, according to the EEOC. (Click here to see what you — and your managers — must avoid.)
  5. You don’t even have to be disabled to be ADA-protected. The EEOC recently charged an employer with disability discrimination, even when the employee who was supposedly discriminated against wasn’t disabled. How? Why? (Click here to find out.)
  6. ADA violations are going to start costing even more. Back in November, the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 was passed. It directs federal agencies to adjust their civil monetary penalties for inflation every year. A few weeks ago, notice-posting penalties more than doubled under the ADA. (Click here to see new penalty amounts.)
  7. Employers must issue new wellness notices to employees. As you likely recall, back in May, the EEOC released its final wellness rule on how employers have to administer their wellness plans to comply with the ADA. And the final rule contained a new provision for employers: For a wellness plan that makes health inquiries of employees to be considered “voluntary” it must provide a notice to participants that explains the medical information that will be obtained, used and protected. (Click here to see what the notice must include.)
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