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Chicago Employment Lawyer Asserts Americans with Disabilities Act Does Not Exempt Employees from Work

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                                   Chicago Employment Lawyer Asserts Americans with Disabilities
                                   Act Does Not Exempt Employees from Work
                                   Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) August 17, 2012 - Employers need to set clear expectations for employees
                                   in order to avoid ADA lawsuits.

                                   “While there are many reasons to file a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), those
                                   reasons must be valid when tested by the courts,” according to Timothy Coffey, a Chicago employment lawyer
                                   and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P.C.. “If they are not, the plaintiff may lose his or her case,
                                   which is what happened in Samper v. Providence St. Vincent Med. Ctr., 9th Cir., 4/11/12.”

                                   In Samper, the plaintiff neonatal intensive care nurse was a fibromyalgia sufferer, experiencing chronic pain and
                                   an inability to sleep soundly or restfully. Her unplanned absences from work were more than allowed, according
                                   to the terms of her job description. In working with the nurse to try and accommodate her medical issues, the
                                   hospital employer agreed to a very flexible schedule that would allow her to move her shift if she had a day
                                   where she was experiencing bad fibromyalgia symptoms.

                                   Even with the new flexible shift arrangement, her rate of attendance in the workplace did not improve, and the
                                   hospital fired her. The nurse chose to sue the employer under the ADA, alleging they did not offer her
                                   reasonable accommodation. The hospital’s defense was that, while they did acknowledge she was disabled,
                                   they did not feel an open-ended pass to be absence for work was reasonable, especially when working in the
                                   neonatal intensive care unit where one’s physical presence is essential.

                                   If the worker was not present at the hospital in the neonatal intensive care unit, then she could not perform her
                                   job, whether she had a flexible schedule or not. Since that was the case, and the nurse could not do her work at
                                   home, she could not be considered a qualified individual protected under the auspices of the ADA.

                                   “When this case got to court, the legal question of the day was whether or not it was essential showing up for
                                   work on a predictable basis,” said Coffey. “The decision was that a nurse in the intensive care unit must be in
                                   attendance, not only because it was essential, but because it was a matter of life or death. The defendant won
                                   the case.”

                                   Not all cases that go to court win, and there is a valuable lesson inherent in this case. Showing up for work on a
                                   predictable basis is essential, or a job cannot be performed. Facts like this must be included in the job
                                   description, so employees understand exactly what is expected of them.

                                   Additionally, employers must make an effort to offer reasonable accommodations for all workers. The hospital
                                   made a significant accommodation for the nurse in this case, but she wanted that to exempt her from the very
                                   essential nature of the job: being in regular attendance. This means it was not afforded protection under the
                                   ADA.

                                   Timothy Coffey is a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C.,
                                   an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace. To learn more or to
                                   contact a Chicago employment attorney, visit employmentlawcounsel.com.

                                   THE COFFEY LAW OFFICE, P.C.
                                   351 W. Hubbard Street, Suite 602
                                   Chicago, IL 60654
                                   Call: 312.627.9700




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Description: Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) August 17, 2012 Employers need to set clear expectations for employees in order to avoid ADA lawsuits.