REASON PREVAILS… AND REASON FLAILS...

Sweeney says it’s bad; ergo, it’s good. In a huge victory for truth, justice, and the American way, Congress and Dubya undo the vile OSHA ergonomics rule promulgated in Clinton’s eleventh hour. Among other things, the rule would have required companies to redesign workplaces and give employees 90 days’ paid leave (notwithstanding the FMLA and workers’ compensation laws) whenever an injury was deemed to be caused by the workplace. The AFL-CIO’s John Sweeney said that "‘dishonest’ and ‘disgraceful’" weren’t strong enough words to describe the congressional action.

You’d be crabby, too, if you were him. The Seventh Circuit held that decreased sexual performance secondary to a bad back is not a "substantial limitation of a major life activity" within the meaning of the ADA. The plaintiff was terminated after he allegedly called his supervisor a "motherf---er" in Spanish.

Ninth Circuit gets one right. (The decision to insert the word "finally" is completely up to you, Dear Reader.) The Ninth Circuit (California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Guam) is not normally one of our favorites because of its employer-unfriendly stances. However, a panel of the court recently held that an employer acted appropriately by counseling an employee about alleged sexual harassment, instructing him to stay away from the alleged victim, and transferring him to another shift, even though no formal discipline was administered.

Give her some exposure to the court system, and she’ll think a one-hour delay sounds pretty darned quick. A federal district court found that a clothing store did not violate the ADA or California law by taking one hour to consider the accommodation request of a blind woman who wanted her husband to assist her in the women’s dressing room. (The woman was granted the requested accommodation after the understandably confused store employees consulted with their Human Resources representative.)

Plaintiffs from Mars . . . and Venus. Ford Motor Company instituted a program of grading employees "on a curve" as part of their performance evaluations. Nine employees have sued, contending that the evaluation system discriminates on the basis of age. "This is a whole new system," the plaintiffs’ lawyer sputtered. The nerve!

Love the cheesesteak and mummers, but, oh, those Keystone Kourts! The federal court for the the Eastern District of Pennsylvania refused to dismiss an ADA suit on summary judgment, even though there was evidence showing that the plaintiff was belligerent, unprofessional, and sensitive to criticism. In fact, the court cited the plaintiff’s bad personality in finding that she may have been "substantially limited in the major life activity of interacting with others." The same district also refused to throw out a retaliatory discharge lawsuit filed by a plaintiff who had allegedly threatened to shoot a co-worker and her plant manager.

California opens floodgates . . . even more. California amends its Fair Employment and Housing Act to make up for the Supreme Court’s having put some limits on who is entitled to ADA protection. Under the new law, employers will have to accommodate employees who do not have "substantial limitations" and without regard to mitigating measures. Employment attorneys predict that employers will lose 80 to 90 percent of their disability discrimination cases because of the change in the law.

Stress’t practices. Guess the ending to this story: An employer in New Jersey allegedly bet an obese employee $250 a pound if he could lose 100 pounds in 14 months, and then the employee failed to lose the weight. Then the employer needed to fire the obese employee... (See answer below.)

ANSWER: Court finds that obese employee’s discrimination suit can go to trial, citing bet as evidence of anti-fat animus. 

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