Court Clarifies ADA Requirements

Last month U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown made a ruling that adds some clarity to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) and Oregon Disability Law.

In Neal v. Kraft Foods Global, Inc., the court granted summary judgment in favor of Kraft Foods in a claim by plaintiff that Kraft Foods failed to reasonably accommodate her disability.

The case is significant because the court clarified some technical points about the ADA, the ADAAA and Oregon Disability Law.

First – An employer may require an employee to undergo a medical examination in an attempt to facilitate the reasonable accommodation process under Oregon law. This already was permitted under the ADA, which states that employers may make inquiries or require medical examinations necessary to the reasonable accommodation process. 29 CFR 1630.14(c). Therefore under both federal and state law, an Oregon employer may now require an employee to submit to an IME or some other examination which is necessary to the “reasonable accommodation” process. Employers will be required to pay for the examination. Judge Brown’s decision sets the law in Oregon for federal court cases. State courts will consider the ruling persuasive, but it is not binding on them.

Second – The Court held that the ADAAA is not retroactive. Therefore, the ADA will be interpreted without these amendments where the employer’s challenged action occurred before January 1, 2009.

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