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Verrill Dana, LLP

Verrill Dana, LLP is one of New England's preeminent regional law firms. With offices in Portland and Augusta, ME; Boston, MA; Westport, CT; Providence, RI; and Washington D.C. Verrill Dana provides sophisticated legal representation to businesses and individuals in the traditional areas of litigation, real estate, business law, labor and employment law, employee benefits, environmental law, intellectual property and estate planning.  The Firm also has industry-focused specialties including higher education, health care and health technology, energy, and timberlands. 

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Entries in ADA (38)


Obesity and the ADA: Does 33% of the U.S. Population Have ADA Protection as a Result of Obesity?

Yesterday, the Eighth Circuit issued an opinion in Morriss v. BNSF Railway Co., No. 14-3858 (April 5, 2016), rejecting the plaintiff’s argument that obesity (in and of itself) is sufficient to maintain an ADA claim. The Eighth Circuit joins the Sixth Circuit and the Second Circuit in coming to this conclusion.

Melvin Morriss filed suit alleging that BNSF Railway Company refused to hire him on account of his obesity, and thereby discriminated against him in violation of the ADAAA and the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act. The action alleged both disability discrimination and “regarded as” discrimination.

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Refusal of Employee’s Request for “Peaceful Calm Environment” Does Not Constitute Failure to Accommodate Under the ADA

Last week Judge Joseph N. Laplante of the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire issued a decision in Posteraro v. RBS Citizens, N.A., Civil No. 13-cv-416 (D.N.H. Dec. 29, 2015), on Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment. The case involved a former Citizens Bank employee who was terminated from Citizens Bank after failing to return to work after a leave of absence for her medical conditions—post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), depression, and anxiety. Ms. Posteraro brought claims for disability discrimination (for failure to provide a reasonable accommodation); sexual and disability harassment causing a hostile work environment (including allegations that her tenure at Citizens Bank was “rife with gender and disability-based harassment”); intentional infliction of emotional distress; wrongful discharge; retaliation (after she opposed the alleged sexual harassment and pursued accommodations for her disabilities); and constructive discharge.

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Ba Rump Pa Pum Whaaaa?: Little Drummer Boy and the Out-of-Date Minimum Lifting Requirements

When was the last time you reviewed the “minimum lifting requirements” in your job descriptions? In several cases this year, courts have looked skeptically at job requirements listed in an employer’s job description. Specifically, judges have not been willing to take the employer’s word for it that lifting, say 50 pounds, is an actual requirement of the job. These inquiries come when an employer defends its decision to not hire someone on the basis of a disability or when they refuse an accommodation under the ADA. 

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Only a Hippopotamus Will Do: "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" and Employee Requests for Service Animal Accommodations

Because of how often we hear from clients regarding requests for “emotional support” animals to accompany employees to work, we figured a refresher on how to handle these types of situations would be appreciated. While we do not expect many employees to request to bring a “service hippo” to work, we have certainly been faced with situations where “non-traditional” animals have been requested to accompany individuals both in public accommodation situations, and in the workplace.

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Every Holiday Has Food So Special: The Latke Song and Food Allergies in the Workplace

Debbie Friedman’s “The Latke Song” has a wonderful message regarding remembering those who are less fortunate than ourselves during the holiday season—as told through the point of view of a potato who is turning into a latke. As a “foodie” living in an “amazing food city” food is a big part of my life. So what role, if any, does food play in employment law? From a legislative or case law standpoint, none yet, but as food allergies continue to increase throughout the country, one can expect that we will see failure to accommodate through ADA claims moving in that direction.

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Excuse Me . . . I “Tooted”: Flatulance and the ADA

My four-year-old spent the vast majority of the weekend publically announcing (louder than her grandparents and I would have preferred) “excuse me I tooted” every time she passed gas—which considering her petite frame and refusal to eat a vast majority of foods, occurred much more often than I would have expected possible. Despite her well developed manners I tried to explain the private nature of this type of announcement, in hopes of combating the announcement in later years. While this is not something I would normally share in a public forum, its relationship to a recent employment lawsuit is too serendipitous to not tie the two incidents together. So, now I’ll get to the employment law issue.

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