Another year has gone by, and yet the lawsuits filed against hotels and other places of public accommodation alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) continues to increase. We still see hundreds of lawsuits filed each month against hotels for their failure to identify and describe accessible features at their properties in sufficient detail on their websites. Many of these lawsuits continue to allege that Online Travel Agencies (“OTAs”) such Expedia, Hotels.com, or Orbitz fail to provide information about the accessible amenities of the hotel, including its rooms, to individuals with disabilities, or fail to allow an individual with a disability to book an accessible guestroom. While it may seem counterintuitive that a Hotel would be responsible for the information provided on the OTAs website, that often is the case.
A ton of ADA lawsuits also continue to be filed every day alleging that hotel websites cannot be used by individuals with visual or hearing impairments (in particular websites that utilize PDFs). Thus, it is extremely important that businesses ensure the accessibility of their websites while also providing an appropriate “accessibility statement” explaining to users the steps you have taken to improve your website’s accessibility.
While few, if any, employers had time to develop state-of-the-art policies or revamp their training programs in 2020 for matters unrelated to COVID-19, they would be wise to consider taking proactive steps as the world returns to some semblance of normalcy. As employees begin to focus on more mundane matters, they would do well to remember that a well-drafted, up-to-date employee handbook tailored to your organization is an essential element of your compliance program. Effective and engaging training is necessary to communicate your policies and priorities to your employees, and to ensure your managers understand their roles and what is expected of them. A state-of-the-art handbook and top-shelf training will be of little value, however, if your employees and/or managers are not following those policies, it is critical that you conduct compliance audits to ensure your organization is walking the talk.
OSHA guidance states that “if an employee can perform their job functions in a manner which does not pose a safety hazard to themselves or others, the fact they have a disability is irrelevant.” Although OSHA portrays this policy as straightforward, in practice, it can be difficult to determine when and how to accommodate a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), while also protecting the safety of the disabled employee and his or her co-workers. This assessment can be further complicated when the employer is unaware a disability may cause or contribute to a workplace safety issue. The importance of understanding the laws at play in this context has increased, and will continue to increase significantly, due to the aging workforce, and the unique challenges these types of workers may face.
The ADA also requires that medical information related to a disability be kept confidential, yet OSHA mandates certain information be provided when recording injuries and illnesses for OSHA Recordkeeping. A disability may also impact whether and how an injury is recorded. Therefore, it is critical for employers to understand the intersection between the ADA and OSHA.
During this webinar, participants will learn:
Requirements related to ADA disability accommodation, and how to evaluate an accommodation in the context of legitimate safety concerns
How to address unsafe conditions or performance related to an employee disability
Best practices to foster safety in the context of an aging workforce
Injury and illness recordkeeping practices related to employee disabilities
On Wednesday March 22, 2017, Conn Maciel Carey Labor & Employment attorneys Jordan B. Schwartz and Daniel Deacon will be presenting a free webinar reviewing the major regulatory initiatives promulgated by the US Department of Labor (“DOL”) in 2016 and discussing what employers can expect from the DOL and other federal agencies in 2017.
As employers are undoubtedly aware, the DOL was extremely active in 2016 as President Obama’s second term came to a close. From its attempt to more than double the threshold salary level to be classified as an exempt employee to requiring that employers provide paid sick leave for contractors, the DOL hit the employer community hard. However, President Trump and Alexander Acosta, the nominee to be the new Secretary of Labor, will likely attempt to reign in the DOL’s significant activity as well as the activity of other Federal agencies.
This webinar will review the major regulations promulgated in 2016 and provide guidance and recommendations to ensure compliance in 2017.
During the last few years, employers have become accustomed to increased scrutiny and enforcement from various federal agencies, including the Department of Labor, Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. While it is anyone’s guess as to how proactive these agencies will be during the Trump administration, the fact remains that various complex local, state, and federal laws currently are in place designed to protect employees under a wide variety of circumstances. With employers in all industries scrambling to prepare for a changing workplace in the coming months/years, it is as important as ever to be prepared for what’s ahead from an employment law perspective.
Conn Maciel Carey’s 2017 Labor & Employment Webinar Series, hosted by the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Group, is designed to give you the practical solutions to ensure you are running your business in a way that does not run afoul of the most important labor and employment laws facing our workforce today.
Click here for the full schedule and program descriptions. To register for individual webinars, click on the program titles below.