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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 ADAAA (7)


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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Is an Applicant's Past Drug Addiction and Current Use of "Chocolate Chip Cookies," "Fizzies," and "Wafer" a Disability?

You, like I, may not have been up-to-date on Methadone’s street names—but now you are. After that brief (but important) education, we turn to why this information is relevant to your workforce and human resources practice.

Earlier this month, the EEOC filed a Complaint against a Maryland-based company alleging disability discrimination as a result of the company’s failure to hire a recovering drug addict who was currently using methadone. The Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges: “Cox’s [sic] has a record of a disability based upon her 19-year drug addition,” and as a result “Defendant regarded Cox as having a disability based on her methadone use.” (Complaint, ¶13g,h.)

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At the end of February, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued revised guidance addressing various employment laws and how those laws impact the employment of veterans.  The aim, according to the EEOC, is to make clear how the Americans with Disability Act Amendments “…make it easier for veterans…including those that are often not well understood…to get needed reasonable accommodations” in the workplace.  Included in the discussion are some of the more challenging impairments to accommodate in the workplace, such as traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Attendance, Essential Job Functions, and Reasonable Accommodations: First Circuit Adds “Flexible Work Schedule” Wrinkle to Traditional Analysis

The First and other circuits have long held that attendance is an essential function of any job.  The recent case of Valle-Arce v. Puerto Rico Ports Authority, 651 F.3d 190 (1st Cir. 2011), adds a new wrinkle to that line of authority and raises questions regarding the scope of an employer’s duty to accommodate disabled employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  Specifically, the Valle-Arce decision addresses the degree to which the ADA may require employers to provide flexible work schedules that address a disabled employees’ inability to adhere to a fixed work schedule.

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Presentation Note: Social Media and The ADAAA - Trends and Updates

Anne Birgel Cunningham will be presenting today to a group of business students at Saint Joseph's College in Standish, Maine.  Anne's presentation will focus on social media use in the workplace as well as issues related to the ADAAA, including the EEOC's focus on developing new regulations that define what constitutes a reasonable accomodation.


An Over-the-Counter Remedy for the Health Risk Assessment Headache

The following article was originally published on the Verrill Dana Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation group's blog

A number of clients have recently asked a relatively simple question: Can they require an employee to take a health risk assessment (“HRA”) as a condition of participation in a wellness program or group health plan? This question seems simple enough. Nevertheless, the answer involves unraveling a complex web of federal and state privacy, discrimination, and disability-related laws – and that’s just the beginning! Parsing through these laws will give even the most savvy HR professional a headache. This post offers an over-the-counter remedy for that headache by describing some basic principles that employers can follow to determine what they can and cannot do in designing HRA incentives. But first a bit of background about HIPAA, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (“ADAAA”), and a recent case that appears to help.

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