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Disability discrimination and reasonable accommodations

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Exhaustion of FMLA leave does not automatically foreclose additional leave. Massachusetts law is more flexible.

When convalescing from a disability related illness, employees can’t always pinpoint the exact date of their return to work. They may need additional time. Some employers mistakenly believe that they have no obligation to give an employee additional time off once the employee has exhausted all his or her leave under the federal Family Medical […]

Disability discrimination: An employee’s use of medical marijuana is allowed in Massachusetts, with some restrictions

Massachusetts voters approved a referendum allowing for the use of medical marijuana. The Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled that an employer who unilaterally fires an employee who is taking medical marijuana may face a claim for illegal disability discrimination. In Barbuto v. Advantage Sales and Marketing, the employee accepted a job doing promotional work.  She told the […]

The intersection of pregnancy and disability discrimination, FMLA/maternity leave, and pregnancy related illnesses like post partum depression

It is a common misperception that the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides all the leave an employer is required to give employees. Massachusetts law requires a more flexible approach when the employee has a disability and the exact date of return is not yet determined. Independent of the FMLA, the employer must engage […]

Employment disability discrimination: What does the law mean when it says the disability must substantially limit major life activities or bodily functions?

The law makes an important distinction between a disability that restricts a major life activity and a temporary impairment like a broken arm. An employee is covered by anti-discrimination laws if he or she is a qualified handicapped person who can do his/her job, either with or without a reasonable accommodation. To be a qualified […]

Employer can’t just argue that a disabled employee is unqualified because he/she can’t do a newly assigned job. The employer must agree to an interactive dialogue that considers reasonable accommodations.

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) ruled that an employer was liable for disability discrimination after it fired an employee who had a traumatic brain injury because, it claimed, the employee could not handle new tasks that he never previously performed. Even though the employee asked for reasonable accommodations to help him meet the goals […]

Pamela A. Smith
Law Office of Pamela A. Smith
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