Americans With Disabilities Act Turns 20
This week marks the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act. According to the Washington Post, the EEOC released a report indicating that “workers with targeted disabilities – including deafness, blindness, missing extremities, mental retardation, and partial and complete paralysis – represent less than 1% of the federal work force.” Based, in part, upon this report, President Obama issued an executive order requiring federal agencies to increase their efforts to hire 100,000 disabled employees over the next five years. “The order directs the office of Personnel Management, in consultation with the Labor Department, the EEOC and the Office of Management and Budget, to design strategies within 60 days for recruiting and hiring disabled workers. Personnel Managers at government agencies must be trained in employing the disabled. Agencies will then be required to development plans for recruiting and keeping the workers.” Also, this week, the House of Representatives passed legislation making the Internet and television more accessible to the disabled. The Bill, which now goes to the Senate, would require the telecommunications industry to caption on-line television programs and that telecommunications equipment that is used over the Internet be compatible with hearing aids.
Practice pointer. There has been quite a lot of recent activity concerning the accessibility of web sites for visually and hearing impaired individuals. As with many laws, technology moves faster then the law can. Businesses with web sites should be prepared to address these issues in the near future.
Update on Nursing Mothers
The U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, issuedFact Sheet No. 73 providing general information on the breakdown requirement for nursing mothers in the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act which became effective on March 23, 2010. The DOL states that “employers are required to provide a reasonable amount of break time to express milk as frequently as needed by the nursing mother. The frequency of breaks needed to express milk as well as the duration of each break will likely vary.” The DOL further points out that a bathroom is not a permissible location even if private. The location provided must be functional as a space for expressing breast milk. The DOL believes that “a space temporarily created or converted into a space for expressing milk or made available when needed by the nursing mother is sufficient provided that the space is shielded from view, and free from any intrusion from co-workers and the public.” The break time only applies to employees who are not exempt from the FLSA’s overtime pay requirements. Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to the FLSA break time requirements if compliance with the provision would impose an undue hardship. An undue hardship “is determined by looking at the difficulty or expense of compliance for specific employers in comparison with the size, financial resources, nature, and structure of the employer’s business.” The DOL further finds that “employers are not required under the FLSA to compensate nursing mothers for breaks taken for the purpose of expressing milk. However, where employers already provide compensated breaks, an employee who uses that break time to express milk must be compensated the same way that other employees are compensated for break time.”
Home Depot Male-on-Male Sexual Harassment Case Settles
I recently reported on the Home Depot case involving store manager David Corbitt. While on appeal before the 11th Circuit in a rare en banc session, the case settled and the appeal was dismissed before the court could enter a ruling. In light of the fact that the 11th Circuit decided to hear the case en banc, the December panel opinion was vacated.
Practice pointer. In light of the 11th Circuit’s granting of an en banc hearing, the issues raised in this case peaked the interest of the judges. Since the case was settled before a decision was released, the 11th Circuit will need to find another case with similar issues in order to address the issues raised in this case.