Is nicotine addiction a disability?

Q. An employee says she must be allowed to take smoke breaks. She claims she is so addicted to nicotine that she has a disability, and that therefore I must accommodate her requirements. If I don’t allow her to take smoke breaks, can she sue me?

Think twice before suddenly withdrawing ADA accommodation that's been working

Once you have an accommodation in place for a disabled employee, don’t suddenly take it away. If the accommodation has been working, that may spur an ADA lawsuit.

Drivers ed: Take it up with the DOT first

A truck driver who is required to maintain U.S. Department of Transportation certification can’t sue his employer for disability discrimination if terminated without first pursuing remedies through the DOT. Until he’s done so, he isn’t “qualified” for the position and can’t sue for alleged disability discrimination.

Asking your employees medical questions: What's legal, what's not?

Check out these two lists to make sure you're on the right side of the ADA.

Bosses: Send accommodation requests to HR

Here’s a simple tip that can save your organization time and legal troubles in the long run: Train all your managers and supervisors to tell employees asking for disability accommodations to take up the matter with the HR department. Don’t let managers go it alone with their own accommodation efforts.

EEOC sues San Diego clinic for ADA violation

A surgical scrub technician has alleged Sharp Healthcare withdrew a job offer because it regarded her as disabled when she was not.

Let the pros in HR handle that! Bosses shouldn't meddle in FMLA, ADA issues


Some managers think they can handle employees with disabilities on their own. That’s never a good idea. Someone in HR should oversee every aspect of disability accommodations. Leave management out of it—other than requiring every manager and supervisor to report immediately potential disabilities to HR. Otherwise, things can go badly wrong, as they did in one recent case.

Beware subtleties of 'regarding as disabled'


Employers can be liable under the ADA if they “regard” someone as disabled—that is, assuming and acting as if the person has a disability. That’s true whether the worker is disabled or not. Telling an employee she should pick up medical forms to apply for disability benefits and sending her home until she does apply probably means the employer regarded the employee as disabled.

When accommodation is impossible, it's OK to discharge disabled worker

Not every disability can be accommodated in a way that enables an employee to perform the essential functions of his job. Sometimes, the disability simply can’t be accommodated. When that’s the case, you may terminate the employee. If he sues, you must be ready to show what the job’s essential functions are and that it simply isn’t possible for the disabled employee, given his specific disabilities, to perform those functions.

How can we prevent a workers' comp claim from an older, accident-prone employee?

Q. One of our employees is over age 70 and has had a broken foot, memory problems and a recent car wreck that caused some residual problems. Should we allow him to work? What can we do to protect ourselves from potential workers’ comp claims should he injure himself?

No magic words needed to ask for ADA accommodations

Disabled employees who want reasonable accommodations don’t have to specifically use those words.

Court: You don't have to be clairvoyant about ADA

Merely complaining about aches and pains isn’t enough to put an employer on notice that an employee is disabled and needs an ADA accommodation.

Working overtime hours can be an essential function

Working overtime can be an essential job function. If disabled employees can’t work overtime, you may not have to accommodate them.

FMLA or ADA request? Don't let that derail legitimate discipline or termination decisions


Firing someone right after she requests FMLA leave or an ADA accommodation can often trigger a lawsuit. But timing close alone won’t sink your chances of winning—as long as you have a valid business reason for discharging the employee that is unrelated to illness or disability.

Trio of EEOC charges leads San Antonio firm to settle

San Antonio-based Taprite Fassco has settled gender, disability and retaliation charges leveled by a female quality control employee. Taprite Fassco manufactures carbon dioxide regulators for soda and beer dispensers.
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