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National Law & Policy Archives

Is your Website ADA Compliant?

The Americans with Disabilities Act states that places of public accommodation, like stores, museums, restaurants, and movie theaters, must ensure equal access to the goods and services to people with disabilities as to people without disabilities.

Can my Child's School Suspend him for Posting on Facebook?

Back on October 23, 2013, a Central York High School student posted a remark on Facebook after a bomb threat had forced the school to evacuate. His post, "Plot twist, bomb isn't found and goes off tomorrow," was seen as enough of a threat by the school's administrators that the district's superintendent questioned the student on his ability to make a bomb, and later suspended the student for 10 days.

Can My Employer Fire Me For Medical Marijuana Use?

Just this past week the Colorado Supreme Court in a much-anticipated decision ruled that a medical marijuana patient who was fired after testing positive on a company drug test was not entitled to reinstatement.

Workplace Bullies Pose Threat to Employers

When people hear the word "bullying" they may think of schools or playgrounds, but in truth, workplace bullying has become increasingly pervasive, and can create significant legal ramifications for employers. In fact, a 2012 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 51% of organizations reported incidents of workplace bullying.  Workplace bullying is generally defined as repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators in the form of verbal abuse, offensive conduct, or work interference. 

Partial Deafness May Not Qualify Under Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act was amended in 2008 in part as a response to narrow judicial interpretation of the word "disabilities." The amended version, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (hereinafter "ADAAA"), expands the definition of "disability," construing a broad new range of coverage for groups previously denied protection under the Act including but not limited to those suffering from: epilepsy, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, major depression and bipolar disorder. Although the ADAAA 's enactment overturned United States Supreme Court rulings with respect to the definition of "disability," a recent Opinion from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Mengel v. Reading Eagle Company, No. 11-6151, (E.D.  Pa.  March 29, 2013) demonstrates that the federal judiciary is undeterred by the ADAAA's expansive definition of "disability" as they continue to place their own limitations on the ADAAA through judicial interpretation.

Employment Complaints

The tightened job market has led to increased pressure on both employees and employers to maximize potential in the workplace. It has been argued that his increased pressure has caused a generally more hostile work environment, with increased reports of improper conduct such as discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. An employee falling victim to improper conduct may be fearful of reporting the conduct or unsure of how to proceed. While it is always good practice to keep a journal or other written documentation of any incidents that occur, the first formal step for an employee is to file an internal or external complaint against his or her employer. Employees are often unaware of this right and it can serve as an important notice, beyond which the employer cannot deny their awareness of the complained of conduct. There are two primary types of complaints an employee can file: (1) internal, and (2) external. 

Warrantless Blood Draw

Is the dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream enough of an emergency to justify a blood draw without permission or a warrant from a suspected drunk driver? While a Missouri law said yes, the Supreme Court, on April 17, disagreed, striking down that state's law allowing police to compel drunk-driving suspects to provide blood samples, even absent consent or warrant.

Workplace Email

It was recently reported that Harvard University took it upon itself to view the work emails of 16 residential deans as part of its investigation into a cheating scandal. The level of outrage at Harvard's investigation that this may conjure will depend entirely on the extent to which you believe employees have an expectation of privacy in a corporate email account.

Gender Discrimination Hot Issue in New Jersey

Would you find it a bit odd if a woman had never been selected to referee a top-level men's high school basketball competition? That is the exact argument the Third Circuit refused to dismiss in a claim of gender discrimination brought in New Jersey.  The Plaintiff, Tamika Covington, alleges that despite being qualified, she has been repeatedly overlooked for high profile men's high school basketball games as part of a willful pattern of gender discrimination.  The Third Circuit cited to the fact that in light of the recent decision by the US Military to allow women to engage in combat, they could certainly handle the physical expectations of a men's high school basketball game.  A copy of the Complaint can be found here, and the Third Circuit's Opinion can be found here.

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