Magazine article Personnel Journal

Recent Legal Decisions Affect You

Magazine article Personnel Journal

Recent Legal Decisions Affect You

Article excerpt

Diabetes as an Absolute Hiring Bar Is Unlawful

Denial of employment based on an individual's blood-sugar level without an individualized assessment of his or her medical history and ability to perform the job safely is unlawful under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

Following David Darling's application for an electrician position with Chrysler in July 1993, and hiring approval subject to the results of drug and medical tests, a blood test disclosed an elevated blood sugar of 219 mg/dl, indicative of diabetes.

Although Darling never had been treated for diabetes, his personal physician submitted a letter to the company stating that Darling was "able to work without restriction."

After Darling began working for Chrysler and further blood tests revealed elevated blood sugar levels, his doctor prescribed medication and wrote that Darling's condition was "under good control with diet and medication." However, because of Chrysler's blanket exclusion of all diabetics, Darling's job offer was withdrawn.

After EEOC filed suit on Darling's behalf, Chrysler argued that Darlingpotentially subject to dizziness, faintness and convulsions-posed a threat to safety and health. The district court ruled that a speculative or remote risk was not sufficient and permanently barred Chrysler's blanket exclusion because Darling could do the job for which he was hired. EEOC v. Chrysler Corp., E.D. Mich. No. 94-CV74979 (3/6/96).

IMPACT: ADA legislation requires that employers base their decision on an individual's actual ability to perform the essential duties of a specific position.

40-or-over Replacement Is No Bar to Age Claim

James O'Connor began working for Consolidated Coin Caterers Corp. in 1978. In July 1990 when O'Connor was 56, the company eliminated his job as a regional general manager with a sales territory covering parts of North Carolina and Virginia. The company claimed O'Connor was not selected for one of the two remaining regions because of unsatisfactory performance. His replacement was 40 years old, and thus also protected by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

The district court and court of appeals ruled that a trial was not warranted because O'Connor was not replaced by someone under the age of 40.

The Supreme Court disagreed and refused to block O'Connor's claim, even though he was replaced by a younger person who was over age 40. …

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