Tax Credits for Small Employers Under the Affordable Care Act

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn May 21, 2010In: Legislative Update

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The IRS has issued a News Release explaining to small businesses how they can determine whether they qualify for tax credits pursuant to the Affordable Care Act. These credits are granted to small employers who provide health insurance, as well as additional coverage, such as dental and vision, to employees. The IRS also issued Notice 2010-44 (pdf), which provides more detailed information, including how the credit is calculated.  The Notice also provides more than a dozen examples demonstrating how the credit will work.

The tax credits granted pursuant to the Affordable Care Act are intended to provide tax incentives to small businesses, defined in this instance as having fewer than 25 full-time employees, whose employees earn, on average, less than $50,000 per year. These benefits are available to those small businesses who provide health insurance benefits for which the company pays at least half of the annual cost of individual coverage in 2010. Because the credits are based upon the number of full-time employees, employers with more than 25 employees, some of whom are part-time, may still qualify. Owners of the small business and their family members are not included in the definition of employees.

The credit will range from 25% to 35% of premiums paid by small business employers for tax years 2010 through 2013. Tax-exempt organizations that qualify may receive a credit of up to 25% of the premiums paid. The credit for small businesses will be included as part of the general business credit for 2010. The IRS is still working on the procedure by which tax-exempt entities may claim the credit.


See also, Summary of HIRE Act

This post was written by guest blogger, Jennifer R. Noel.  Jenn is an associate in Young Conaway's Tax, Trusts & Estates Section, where she advises clients with respect to local, state, federal, and international tax issues, the legal aspects of the formation and operation of small and emerging growth business enterprises, and the preparation and negotiation of commercial contracts.

Waitress Is Fired for Her Complaint on Facebook: Lesson Learned for Employers?

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn May 18, 2010In: Social Media in the Workplace

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After waitress Ashley Johnson spent 3 hours waiting on a couple at the North Carolina pizza restaurant where she worked, she expected more than the $5 tip they left on the table.  According to the waitress, because the couple stayed so long, she had to stay on at work for an extra hour after her shift was over.  The 22-year old waitress was not happy about it.  And, as many 22-year olds are inclined to do, she talked about her unhappiness on Facebook. 

(Really, let's not make too much out of this conduct, though. There was a time, after all, when waiters and waitresses agonized over similar experiences in the restaurant's kitchen or at the server's station, even at the local bar following their shift.  Now, though, the entire digital universe can be privy to their stories of cheap patrons and similar frustrations.)image

Johnson was subsequently fired for violation of the restaurant's policy banning workers from speaking disparagingly about customers on a social-networking site.  Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, Johnson's former employer, it appears, did the right thing--it thought ahead and implemented a social-media policy to address just this sort of situation.  And, it would seem to me, that a prohibition against disparaging patrons in a public forum is probably a pretty reasonable idea.  

So why is Brixx getting such negative feedback about the decision?  The Huffington Post posted a sampling of the comments from Brixx's Facebook page, which support Johnson and disagree with her termination.  Does the negative press seem to indicate that employers just have no recourse--with or without a social-media policy, they can't fire employees who speak badly about the organization or its customers?  Well, maybe.  But maybe not.

The comments ask the same questions that came to my mind as I read this story.  First, whose Facebook page did Johnson post her rant to?   Was it hers?  If so, was it private?  Second, did she identify herself as a Brixx employee?  Or just as a waitress?  Third, did she name the patrons or identify them in any way?  Fourth, how did Brixx learn about the rant?  If it found out "innocently," i.e., without coercing an employee to give management access to the employee's Facebook page as a way to covertly see Johnson's page, that's more problematic. 

Not that any of these will make or break the decision to terminate but they may be influential.  And, let's face it, these are questions that employers should be asking under similar circumstances. 

I say, good for Brixx to respond to the post by enforcing its policy.  That, after all, is why policies exist.  I also commend Brixx for using its Facebook page as a way to respond to those who may disagree with its decision.  Finally, I'd suggest that employers not be discouraged by the somewhat negative response Brixx has gotten.  These stories will continue to show up in the news for a long time to come.  So long as you have a clear policy that is communicated to employees and is enforced fairly and consistently, then employers shouldn't be deterred by a few individuals who may disagree. 

Related stories about social media in the workplace:

Employee Fired When Her Sex Blog Is Discovered by Her Boss

Why the Philadelphia Eagles (Still) Need a Social-Media Policy

Eagles Employee Gets Benched for Comment on Facebook Page

Judge Shows Why Employers Should Consider Prohibiting Employees From Posting Anonymously Online

Breach of Noncompetition Agreement Via LinkedIn

Sure, You Can Use Facebook at Work . . . We’ll Just Monitor What You Post




Follow me on Twitter @MollyDiBi

May 21: Same-Sex Harassment Podcast

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn May 17, 2010In: Seminars, Past

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Same-sex harassment is on the rise. Labor and Employment law attorney Teresa A. Cheek will be speaking about same-sex harassment, and about discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity on May 21, 2010, on  The Proactive Employer Podcast.

Listeners can hear the show live via internet streaming on Blog Talk Radio on Friday, May 21, 2010, beginning at 8:30 a.m., or listen to a recorded copy of the podcast later, either at The Proactive Employer website or podcast site, or via iTunes.

New Amendments to the Federal Rules Approved by Supreme Court

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn May 16, 2010In: Purely Legal

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The U.S. Supreme Court approved the most recent set of amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  Here’s a copy of the transmittal letter and the changed rules (PDF).

Employee Fired When Her Sex Blog Is Discovered by Her Boss

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn May 13, 2010In: Off-Duty Conduct, Privacy Rights of Employees, Social Media in the Workplace

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Should employers conduct online searches of job applicants? That's one of the questions I'm asked most often by employers when talking about social media.  One of the less commonly asked questions is whether employers should conduct the same type of online search after the hiring decision has been made.  In other words, should employers monitor their employees' online activities during employment?  porn keyboard

There are good arguments for and against this practice. For me, the most persuasive argument is logistics--it just doesn't seem realistic for most employers to dedicate the resources required to monitor employees' online habits.  But here's a recent story that shows why employers may want to run a search of current employees on Google. reported the story about a single mother in St. Louis who, during the day, worked for a non-profit.  At night, though, she wrote an anonymous "sex blog" called "The Beautiful Kind."  She'd managed to keep her online identity a secret until Twitter came along. 

When she created her Twitter profile, she used her real name, thinking that only her handle would be visible. When she realized that her name actually appeared in her profile, she immediately removed it and adjusted the name field of her handle accordingly.  Immediately, however, was not quickly enough. 

Thanks to Topsy, a Twitter search engine, her original profile was cached and her real name was displayed next to her user handle. According to the blogger, senior management suggested that supervisors search the web for information about their employees.  When the blogger reported to work, she was fired by her boss, who had found out about her extracurricular "activities" on Topsy. The nonprofit claimed that it could not justify the risk to its public image caused by an employee's racy blog.

The interesting point to this story, aside from the idea of supervisors being encouraged by senior management to spend time surfing the web, is that the employee was terminated as a result of conduct that did not involve her job.  She was blogging during nonworking time on a computer not owned by her employer or connected to her employer's network.  In some states, where off-duty conduct is protected to varying degrees, the termination may be unlawful.  But, in Missouri, which does not have any laws offering such protection to employees, it would appear that the termination is entirely lawful.

And, if nothing else, this story is an excellent example of the principle that, if you put it on the Internet, you'd better assume that your boss is going to see it and is going to hold you accountable.

See these related posts for more about the impact of social media on employers and employees:

Judge Shows Why Employers Should Consider Prohibiting Employees From Posting Anonymously Online

Breach of Noncompetition Agreement Via LinkedIn

Sure, You Can Use Facebook at Work . . . We'll Just Monitor What You Post

More Employers Searching Online for the Dirt on Candidates

Sample Social-Media Policy

5 Non-Negotiable Provisions for Your Social-Media Policy

State Off-Duty Conduct Laws and Facebook-Friending Policies



Follow me on Twitter @MollyDiBi

Pending Delaware Legislation May Affect Employee Credentialing

Posted by Maribeth L. MinellaOn May 13, 2010In: Legislative Update, Locally Speaking

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Delaware’s legislature has bills pending which may change how some employers credential their employees.

First, there is a bill pending (Senate Bill No. 236) which will remove the provision that allows for the registration of psychological assistants who hold a master’s degree that is “based on a program of studies that is psychological in content and specifically designed to train and prepare psychologists but who is not working toward full licensure as a psychologist.” Pursuant to the bill, a psychological assistant must have completed all the course requirements for a doctoral degree in psychology. A grandfather provision is included for existing registered psychological assistants who maintain their registration. The change limits psychological assistants to those people who meet the experience requirement under §3508(a)(2) for full licensure as a psychologist. The bill was reported out of committee on May 12, 2010.

Second, there is a bill pending (House Bill No. 377) for all state contractors in the plumbing and heating, ventilation, air conditioning and air refrigeration (“HVACR”) fields. Currently a licensed contractor from any state can obtain a Delaware plumbing or HVACR license by simply paying a fee and proving that the contractor is licensed elsewhere. Some states do not offer the same reciprocity, and instead require Delaware contractors take a written test, pay a fee, and satisfy all licensing criteria for that state.  This bill eliminates the existing disparity between Delaware and out of state reciprocity requirements.   If an out of state contractor’s home state has provisions similar to Delaware’s, the contractor may obtain a Delaware license through the reciprocity provisions.  If the other state does not offer reciprocity, that state’s resident plumbing and HVACR contractors must go through the full process of becoming licensed in Delaware. The bill was reported out of committee on May 12, 2010.

Third, pending Senate Bill No. 246 would create a Delaware Board of Examiners of Bail Enforcement Agents empowered to enforce standards upon bail enforcement agents. This 9 member board will supplant the primary responsibility of the Secretary of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security regarding licensure and disciplinary regulatory authority. Regulations proposed by the Board would still be subject to the approval of the Secretary. The Bill also requires that licensees operating a bail enforcement company obtain insurance and file proof of insurance with the Board. The bill was reported out of the Senate’s sunset committee on May 12, 2010.

Employers can find out more about pending state legislation and how the legislative process works at

Third Cir. Rules that Side Effects from Treatment May Be an ADA Impairment

Posted by Maribeth L. MinellaOn May 10, 2010In: Cases of Note, Disabilities (ADA)

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The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that side effects from medical treatment may constitute an impairment under the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”). The 3d Circuit's decision in Sulima v. Tobyhanna Army Depot is clear that, under limited circumstances an employee-plaintiff may have a cause of action under the ADA if he can prove that the effects of medical treatment are truly disabling, even if the underlying condition is not.


The employee-plaintiff worked for Defense Support Services, a defense contractor which provided workers at the Tobyhanna Army Depot. The employee was morbidly obese and suffers from sleep apnea. At the time, the employee was taking weight-loss and related medications which caused him to take frequent restroom breaks. When asked about the frequent breaks, the employee told his supervisor that they were the result of his medication. He later provided his supervisor with a doctor's note, which stated that the employee may need to use the restroom frequently due to a “gastrointestinal disorder.” The employee told his supervisor that he was not sure how long he would need the medication and that he was going to find out if he could take an alternative medication.

After employee continued to take frequent restroom breaks (some days for a total of two hours during his shift), a supervisor asked that he be transferred to a different work area. When he found out about the transfer, the employee submitted another note from his treating physician, which indicated that his mediation had been changed and that he no longer needed frequent restroom breaks. The decision was made to transfer him anyway but there were no available positions at the Army Depot and the employee accepted a voluntary layoff.  He later filed a claim in federal court, alleging violations under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act.

[read on to learn how the Third Circuit ruled. . . ]

Continue reading "Third Cir. Rules that Side Effects from Treatment May Be an ADA Impairment" »

Turns Out FTC Actually Expects You to Follow Its Rules

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn May 6, 2010In: Social Media in the Workplace

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The Federal Trade Commission updated its Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising to require employees to disclose their employment relationship when "endorsing" their employer or the employer's goods or services, or even defending the employer online.  The "Endorsement Guides" have real implications for employers in today's Web 2.0 world, where CEOs blog, customer-service representatives tweet, and everything in between.  If you're not familiar with the endorsement guides, you can get up to speed by reading this post, Another Reason Employers Need a Social-Media Policy: New FTC Regulations.ftc logo

In that post, I cautioned readers that the FTC appeared to mean business with these rules and that we could expect some enforcement efforts shortly.  Looks like I wasn't far off--and Ann Taylor Loft has the unlucky honor of being the first high-profile enforcement story. reported this about the incident:

Ann Taylor invited bloggers to preview its Summer 2010 LOFT collection, promising attendees a "special gift" and entry into a "mystery gift-card drawing" for those who submitted [blog] posts to the company within 24 hours of the event. Ann Taylor avowed to reveal the value of the gift cards, which ranged from $50 to $500, to bloggers after receiving their posts. . . .

A sign was posted at the event advising bloggers to disclose the proffered gifts, however the FTC expressed concerned about the number of bloggers who actually saw the sign.

The Endorsement Guides states that bloggers must disclose "any material connections they share with the seller of the product or service" when writing about it.  Failure to comply can carry a hefty penalty, including a fine of $11,000 for disclosure violations.  FTC has indicated that it's not as interested in the individual bloggers as it is in the organizations and brands whose goods and services are being endorsed.   Ann Taylor received a letter but no fine was issued. 

Employers should be proactive with social media, especially if making a conscious effort to encourage employees to engage online for their employer.  Even those organizations that do not necessarily encourage employees to participate in online brand building should review their social-media policy and follow up with meaningful education of employees to ensure compliance.

Judge Shows Why Employers Should Consider Prohibiting Employees From Posting Anonymously Online

Breach of Noncompetition Agreement Via LinkedIn

Sure, You Can Use Facebook at Work . . . We'll Just Monitor What You Post

More Employers Searching Online for the Dirt on Candidates

Sample Social-Media Policy

5 Non-Negotiable Provisions for Your Social-Media Policy

State Off-Duty Conduct Laws and Facebook-Friending Policies



Follow me on Twitter @MollyDiBi

Podcast on Social Media for Employers

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn May 3, 2010In: Social Media in the Workplace

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I had the pleasure of participating in a podcast about social media today for the ABA Journal.  The podcast turned into a lively discussion about the potential risks of social media for employers—and how to avoid them. 

You can listen to the 60-minute podcast at the ABA Journal website.

Management on Social Media: Good Employee Communication Tool or Liability?

New Online Resource for Employment Laws from U.S. DOL

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn April 26, 2010In: Resources

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The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), offers a resource called eLaws Advisors, to help employers and employees understand the many federal employment laws.  The website is actually more of an interactive tool that guides users through a series of question to provide specific information relevant to their particular circumstances.  There are eLaws Advisors on wage and overtime issues, workplace poster requirements, health benefits, federal contractor compliance, and other topics. 

First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage, Then Comes Flex-Time and a Baby Carriage

Posted by Adria B. MartinelliOn April 26, 2010In: Flextime, Gender (Title VII)

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The trial in a class-action lawsuit alleging that Novartis Pharmaceuticals practiced sex discrimination against female employees has begun in a federal court in New York. The class of plaintiffs includes more than 5,600 saleswomen, who are seeking $200 million in damages. According to the New York Times, the suit alleges discriminatory pay and promotions targeting women, particularly pregnant ones.

It remains to be seen if the plaintiffs will be able to prove their case, but the allegations include some pretty shocking (and dumb) comments by managers, including my favorite, in which a manager reportedly told a saleswoman that he preferred not to hire young women, saying, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes flex time and a baby carriage.”

As we’ve long known, flexible schedules can play an important—often critical—role in work-family balance. Without the option, many women report they would not return to the workplace (at least for some period of time following their maternity leave) after having a new child. But the fact the option exists on the company books does not necessarily mean it’s an appealing one: in many workplaces they are offered, but not widely utilized because of the stigma associated with them. Other employees take advantage of them, but understand they’re a “career killer.” If the reported comment by a Novartis manager is true, it reveals a far more sinister possibility: the mere existence of flexible schedules may result in women being discriminated against from the outset, based on fear that they might actually use them.

As I’ve posted before, making an employment decision because of mere assumptions about a woman’s caregiving responsibilities and how that might affect her performance, is sex discrimination, plain and simple. It’s been labeled as Family Responsibility Discrimination or Caregiver Discrimination, and if it’s not based on actual performance, it’s illegal. So is failure to hire or promote a woman out of fear she might eventually utilize a firm’s flex-time schedule.

If employers are going to offer flex-time schedules, they can’t discriminate against the women who elect to use them. Even worse is treating women differently based on the mere possibility that they might use them.

Prevailing Wage Law Catch 22: Restrictions on Use of Out-of-State Apprentices Held Unconstitutional

Posted by Sheldon N. SandlerOn April 21, 2010In: Cases of Note

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Federal Judge Sue L. Robinson, U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, has issued an important decision affecting Delaware employers in a case captioned, Tri-M Group, LLC v. Sharp, C.A. No. 06-556-SLR (D. Del. Apr. 14, 2010).

Tri-M Group, LLC, a Pennsylvania electrical contractor, was the successful bidder on a Delaware state construction project. It used apprentices registered in Pennsylvania, and paid them the apprentice wage rates prescribed under the Delaware prevailing wage law. An investigator for the Delaware Department of Labor learned that the apprentices were not registered in Delaware. The contractor asked him how it could register its apprentices in Delaware and was told that the Delaware law requires sponsors of apprentice programs to maintain a permanent place of business in Delaware.

Even though Tri-M had maintained a construction trailer at AstraZeneca for some years, that was not considered to be a “permanent place of business.” The DDOL determined that the contractor was in violation of Delaware law and since the apprentices were not registered in Delaware, they had to be paid the higher journeyman’s rate. The contractor sued in Delaware District Court, contending that favoring in-state contractors by forcing others to pay higher rates violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Judge Robinson agreed. She pointed out that several states in the region, “in a contest of wills over apprentice recognition,” had adopted discriminatory statutes designed to retaliate against and disfavor out of state contractors. Delaware’s statute was particularly blatant, in that it “discriminates against out-of-state employers on its face.” Therefore, a heightened scrutiny standard applied and the requirement that an apprenticeship program maintain a permanent place of business in Delaware would be declared invalid unless the state could show that the requirement “advances a legitimate local purpose that cannot be adequately served by reasonable nondiscriminatory alternatives.” The court concluded that the DDOL could adequately protect its apprentices without using discriminatory means, and granted Tri-M’s motion for summary judgment.

Leading Occupations of Women

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn April 16, 2010In: Women In (and Out of) the Workplace

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The Department of Labor's Women's Bureau released its list of the 20 Leading Occupations of Employed Women.  The data supports stereotypes such as "nursing is a woman's job" and "all secretaries are female."  There were some jobs, though, that I was surprised to learn are largely held by women, including customer-service representatives and accountants and auditors.  Here are the other 18 jobs and the percentage of each held by women, according to the DOL:


Secretaries and administrative assistants 


Registered nurses


Elementary and middle school teachers




Nursing, psychiatric, and home-health aides


Retail salespersons


First-line supervisors/managers  of retail sales workers


Waiters and waitresses


Maids and housekeeping cleaners


Customer service representatives


Childcare workers


Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks


Receptionists and information clerks


First-line supervisors/managers of office and admin support


Managers, all others


Accountants and auditors


Teacher assistants




Office clerks, general


Personal and home care aides


See the original:

20 Leading Occupations of Employed Women Fact Sheet  at the U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau website.

3d Cir. Finds Accommodation Required for Employee Without a Ride to Work

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn April 16, 2010In: Disabilities (ADA)

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 Colwell v. Rite Aid Corp., is an accommodation case brought under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), recently decided by the Third Circuit, which hears appeals from the federal courts of Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Jon Hyman, at the Ohio Employer's Law Blog, was the first to post about the Colwell opinion, noting that the decision offers employers some key reminders about best practices when dealing with an employee’s request for accommodations made pursuant to the ADA.


The plaintiff, Colwell, was hired in April 2005 as a part-time clerk at one of Defendant Rite-Aid’s stores. Her schedule varied but she generally worked the 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. shift or the 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. shift. During the summer, she was diagnosed with retinal vein occlusion and glaucoma in her left eye and she later lost vision in her left eye. As a result, she could no longer drive at night.

Because she lived in an area without public transportation or taxis, Colwell had no reliable way to get to work for the evening shift. She asked to be assigned only to the day shifts but her supervisor refused, saying that it “wouldn’t be fair” to other employees. Colwell provided her supervisor with a doctor’s note as proof that she could not drive at night. Again, her supervisor declined Colwell’s request to be assigned only to day shifts. Colwell had to rely on family members to transport her to and from work on the days she was scheduled to work at night.

Colwell contacted her local union representative, who tried unsuccessfully to convince the supervisor to accommodate Colwell’s request. The union rep set up a meeting for him and Colwell to meet in person with the supervisor but he failed to show up and the meeting was canceled.

Colwell, who had grown weary of the whole situation, submitted her letter of resignation. She filed suit a few months later.

The Employer’s Argument

As its defense to Colwell’s claims, Rite Aid argued that it had no duty to accommodate Colwell’s request because an employee’s commute to and from work is not sufficiently related to the job and, therefore, not the proper subject of an accommodation. This is an important point. The parties agreed that Colwell did not need an accommodation once she got to work—the question in this case was whether the employer had a duty to provide an accommodation to enable her to get there in the first place. The trial court agreed with Rite Aid, and held:

the ADA is designed to cover barriers to an employee’s ability to work that exist inside the workplace, not difficulties over which the employer has no control.

The district court went on to find that imputing a duty to accommodate Colwell’s request was tantamount to “mak[ing] an employer responsible for how an employee gets to work, a situation which expands the employer’s responsibility beyond the ADA’s intentions.” Colwell appealed.

The Third Circuit’s Ruling

On appeal, the question before the Third Circuit was “whether a shift-change request can be considered a reasonable accommodation for an employee who cannot drive at night” because of a disability. Before the Third Circuit, Rite Aid argued that it did not have a duty to accommodate Colwell’s request. In fact, it argued, it did not have a duty to even consider her request because her “difficulties amounted to a commuting problem unrelated to the workplace and the ADA does not obligate employers to address such difficulties.”  The Third Circuit disagreed and ruled that, as a matter of law:

the ADA does contemplate an accommodation that involves a shift change to “alleviate [an employee’s] disability-related difficulties in getting to work.”

Here’s the basic rationale.

First, the court pointed to language in the ADA that specifically provides that a shift change may constitute a “reasonable accommodation.” Thus, a change in shifts is a change in a workplace condition entirely under the employer’s control.

Second, the court explained that, despite Rite Aid’s argument to the contrary, the scheduling of shifts is something done inside the workplace. The court distinguished this from an employee’s request for assistance in getting to work. For example, an employer would not have a duty to provide an employee with transportation to or from work. But an employer does have a duty, where reasonable, to accommodate an employee by changing the times that the employee is required to be at work.

For a Jury to Decide

It’s important to understand that the Third Circuit’s reversal does not mean a “win” for the plaintiff. Instead, the case will be remanded back to the district court for trial. At trial, the jury will be asked to decide which party, Colwell or Rite Aid, failed to meet its obligation to fully participate in the “interactive process” required by the ADA. That decision could go either way.

The jury could find for Colwell, based on the claim that the supervisor’s flat refusal to discuss a possible shift change was not a sufficient attempt at an accommodation. Or the jury could find for Rite Aid, based on the claim that the supervisor had agreed to meet with Colwell and her union rep but when the union rep failed to show up at the meeting, Colwell quit before further discussions could be had.

Alternatively, the jury could find that Rite Aid complied with its duty to engage in the interactive process but, for whatever reason, the shift change was not a viable accommodation. This would be a more difficult burden to meet but not an impossible one.

The Key Lesson

For many employers, this case may seem to have been decided on a technicality. The line between getting an employee to work and giving the employee a shift so that she can get to work seems to be a very thin line indeed. Putting aside the narrow difference, employers should look at the facts on a more basic level to derive the lesson to be learned. In other words, what, if anything, about the supervisor’s response just doesn’t seem fair?

The fact that the supervisor refused to even consider the request doesn’t seem quite right, does it? The supervisor’s immediate response was that a shift change wouldn’t have been “fair” to other employees. That may or may not have been the case. Shouldn’t she have at least bothered to ask the other employees?

The real lesson here is one that is a consistent theme in ADA issues: employers should always try to “work something out” when an employee requests an accommodation due to a disability. If you sit down and discuss the possibilities and then flush out as many options as you can, you will be a far better position.

But do it not because you have to; do it simply because you want to. You want to keep your good performers and not to make employees’ working lives any more burdensome than necessary. This is the same reason employers provide benefits and incentive plans. The same motivation should apply when an employee makes a reasonable request—start with the idea that you want to make the accommodation and take it from there.


75 Internet Resources for Better Writing

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn April 14, 2010In: Internet Resources

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**This is a cross-post with my second blog, Going Paperless, which is directed largely towards legal professionals.  It was worthy of posting here, as well, so that's exactly what I'm doing.


It’s nearly time for the newest crop of summer associates (or, to the non-legal world, "interns"), to flood law firms across the country.  “Summers,” as they’re called, need a lot of care if lawyers expect them to bloom into the highly sought-after combination of brilliant legal mind and burning desire to work around the clock.

Young Conaway makes a very organized effort to help the summer class acquire as much substantive knowledge as possible by assigning work from actual (as opposed to academic) cases, while still placing “getting-to-know-you” time at a premium.  I’m a graduate of our summer-associate program and take a great deal of pride in both the program and the great lawyers that it helps to produce.

In my opinion, the best thing about our summer program is the writing component, led by John Paschetto.  Lucky participants have their work reviewed by the world’s kindest editor and, by the end of the summer, are writing at a level far beyond where they started a few months earlier.

John mentioned that he was compiling a list of helpful websites and online resources for use in his writing program this summer.  Being the compulsive list maker that I am, I couldn’t help but lend a hand.  I’ve compiled a list of 50 of the best legal-writing resources on the web, plus 25 “just-for-fun” blogs about the horrors of spelling, grammar, and style gone wrong.  (Remember the “fun” component, after all.)

I’m glad to share the list with our readers, regardless of how long it’s been since you were a summer associate.   The entire list is reprinted below but, if you're in a rush, here's a copy in PDF for your research file.  Don't forget to share it with your favorite summer associate!

75 Online Legal-Writing Resources (pdf)

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