Welcome to the Color Country Human Resources Association (CCHRA)Color Country Human Resource Association is a fellowship of Human Resource Managers in Southern Utah dedicated to education, certification, and networking to its members. CCHR is affiliated with both the Utah HR State Council and the national Society for Human Resource Management. All workshops are set to be held at the...
Wagon Wheel Diner
290 E. St. George Blvd,
St. George, UT (downstairs conference room).
The cost is $15 for SHRM Members and $20 for Non-members (lunch is included).
Registration: 11:00 - 11:15am
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|Topic:||Employment Law Update 2015|
|Presenter Name:||M. Eric Olmstead, Esq. Partner|
|Company:||Barney, McKenna & Olmstead, P.C.|
|Bio:||M. Eric Olmstead, Esq. is a partner of Barney, McKenna & Olmstead, P.C. Eric represents employers and on occasion, employees, in most areas of employment law, including wrongful termination, sexual harassment and other Title VII-based claims, ADA, ADEA, wage and hour, employment agreements and personal policies, severance agreements, noncompetition agreements and trade secrets. He also counsels and trains employers on how to minimize their exposure to the risks of employment-related lawsuits. Eric is licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Utah, Nevada and California. Prior to moving to Dixie in 1997, Eric practiced law in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Eric has lectured numerous times on employment law topics for private groups, trade organizations, the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce, the Utah Department of Workforce Services and the Utah State Bar.
1. Introduction (overview of federal and state laws that govern employment relationship).
2. Review recent Utah legislative actions and trends in employment law.
3. Review recent federal legislative actions and trends in employment law.
4. Review recent federal and state case law developments in employment law.
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Judging a Book by Its Cover: The EEOC Weighs in on Obesity
In April of this year, a Texas hospital instituted a policy barring obese applicants (defined as individuals with a body mass index of 35 or higher) from obtaining employment at the hospital. According to the hospital, obese applicants do not "fit with a representational image ... of the job of a health care professional.” Historically, courts have sided with employers like the hospital and have held that obesity is not a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Maybe it was just bad timing, but either the hospital did not carefully review the revisions to the ADA encompassed in the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), or it released the obesity policy before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) formally weighed in on this issue.
On April 12, 2012, the EEOC announced that a nonprofit treatment facility for chemically dependent women and their children will pay $125,000 to settle a disability discrimination suit filed by the EEOC. The court-approved settlement resolved the charge of an employee who worked as a prevention/intervention specialist at the facility until she was fired in September of 2007. In its suit, the EEOC charged that the facility violated the ADA when it fired the employee because of her disability (severe obesity) even though she was able to perform the essential functions of her job. Before the EEOC filed suit the employee died, but the EEOC continued the claim on behalf of the employee’s estate. During the litigation, the court denied the employer’s motions for summary judgment in an order holding that severe obesity is an impairment within the meaning of the ADA. The EEOC offered the expert testimony of a renowned obesity researcher to show that the employee’s obesity was the result of a physical disorder or disease and was not caused by lack of character or willpower. But the court reasoned that “neither the EEOC nor the Fifth Circuit have ever required a disabled party to prove the underlying basis of their impairment.”
"All people with a disability who are qualified for their position are protected from unlawful discrimination," said the EEOC's General Counsel. "Severe obesity is no exception. It is important for employers to realize that stereotypes, myths, and biases about that condition should not be the basis of employment decisions."
This case highlights the fact that severely obese people who can do their jobs are protected by the ADAAA as are individuals with any other qualifying disability. Employers should avoid blanket policies prohibiting the hiring or retention of employees on the basis of weight, or be prepared to explain the policy to the EEOC.