Company, EEOC reach settlement on chronic pulmonary condition case

Employee with COPD, emphysema and asthma

Earlier this year, a California-based marketing company reached a settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a disability discrimination lawsuit involving an employee who suffered from COPD, emphysema and asthma.  The federal agency claimed the company refused the worker’s repeated requests for a ground-floor office so that he would not have to climb the stairs to his second-floor office, and that it later terminated his employment without giving any reason.

In a business Q&A with The Oklahoman, McAfee & Taft labor and employment attorney Nathan Whatley outlined the terms of the settlement, discussed what other types of conditions may qualify as disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and reviewed best practices for employers when dealing with employee requests for accommodations.

“The ADA applies to individuals with long-term physical or mental/psychological impairments that significantly interfere with their ability to perform their daily life activities,” said Whatley.  “In addition to disabilities related to physical limitations on an employee’s ability to walk, climb or lift, the ADA has been applied to a wide range of conditions, including diabetes, cancer, seizure disorders, migraine headaches, and a number of psychological impairments such as anxiety disorders and some learning disabilities. Temporary, short-term impairments with little or no lasting effects usually are not disabilities.”