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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. 

Disclaimer:  The content presented in this blog is for general information only, is not intended to constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon by any person as legal advice. While we welcome you to contact our blog authors at, the submission of a comment or question does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and you. 

Entries in Disability (10)


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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Is Honesty the Best Policy? EEOC Alleges Honesty Policy Violates ADA

Our parents consistently told us honesty was the best policy. Being honest with the people you interact with, whether, socially, romantically, or professionally, often creates the healthiest relationships in the long run; the EEOC may, however, disagree with me.

The EEOC recently sued Aurora Health Care Inc. in the Eastern District of Wisconsin arguing in part that an “honesty policy” which barred employees and applicants from providing false or misleading information, served as an illegal qualification standard under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In its recent decision denying the employer’s motion for summary judgment in the action, the court held the defendant had failed to show that the honesty policy was both job-related and consistent with business necessity as it was applied to workers with disabilities. The court noted that the question of whether honesty was an “essential function” of the hospice care coordinator position the plaintiff applied for was the key to resolving the claim.

While it’s difficult for me to think of any position where honesty would not be an essential function of the position, it may just be that I have high standards. At this time, we recommend that employers maintain any “honesty policies” that are currently in place, but we will keep readers updated as this case progresses.


Sixth Circuit Taps the Brakes on Its Ford Decision

Three months ago, we reported on EEOC v. Ford Motor Co., in which a three-judge panel on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit brought by a fired Ford Motor Company employee Jane Harris. In 2011, the EEOC had filed suit on her behalf, alleging that Ford violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to accommodate Ms. Harris' disability and by retaliating against her for filing a charge with the EEOC. A U.S. District Court in Michigan granted Ford summary judgment, however, the Sixth Circuit panel threw out that decision, ruling that Ford had not met its burden of proving that Ms. Harris’ physical presence was an essential function of her job. The Sixth Circuit’s ruling raised potentially significant issues for companies that allow employees to telecommute. (Our prior post on the case can be found here:

Recently, however, a majority of the Sixth Circuit’s judges voted to rehear the case and the Court issued an Order vacating its prior opinion pending rehearing.

We will continue to follow this case and keep our loyal viewers updated. If you have questions about it, or about any aspect of your company’s telecommuting policy, please contact Verrill Dana’s Labor & Employment Department.


New Compliance Obligations Effective Today for Federal Contractors

As we previously reported, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced new rules affecting the implementation of Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Section 503) and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Act, as amended (VEVRAA). The Affirmative Action Program requirements outlined in Subpart C of Section 503 and VEVRAA can be met in the next affirmative action plan cycle. However, certain other obligations are effective today.

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OFCCP Introduces New Compliance Obligations for Federal Contractors

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced its long awaited and somewhat dreaded, new final rules affecting the implementation of Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Section 503) and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act, as amended (VEVRAA). Federal contractors and subcontractors are prohibited from discriminating in employment against individuals with disabilities (under Section 503) and veterans (under VEVRAA). Employers subject to the rules must take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote and retain individuals with disabilities and veterans. The new rules add additional data collection and retention requirements, in addition to imposing benchmarks and utilization goals.

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