The ADA At 25: Mental Disabilities In The Spotlight

Last year, we marked the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  This year the Americans with Disabilities Act turns 25.  Two laws with a shared, broader goal—to level the playing field and eradicate unlawful discrimination—but also two laws with different pasts and likely different futures.  One of the key distinctions is this: we can all grasp what a “race” or “national origin” might be, but can you really peg, with certainty, what a “disability” is?  Probably not, because the legal meaning of this term is constantly evolving.  When, for example, we see someone in a wheelchair, or an amputee with crutches, we think there is certainty.  But what if the visual cues are not present?  What if the disability has nothing to do with one’s fingers and toes being intact, but is “from the neck up”?  If the last 25 years of the ADA have demonstrated anything, it is that the realm of mental, psychological and cognitive disorders and afflictions is one of the most significant and uncertain frontiers in employment disability discrimination law.  Two recent decisions, Weaving v. City of Hillsboro (9th Circuit) and Higgins-Williams v. Sutter Medical Foundation (California Court of Appeal), provide some clues as to where we are going. Continue reading

Unvaccinated Workers: An Employer’s Rights And Obligations

Vaccines for children have been front-page news around the country after the breakout of measles at Disneyland.  Rightfully, the focus has been on children who are unvaccinated and the effect that it has on schools and places of public accommodation.  But, what about unvaccinated adults?  Can an employer require that its employees are vaccinated? Continue reading