Most employers understand that, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants with disabilities. However, what many employers are unaware of is a lesser-known ADA provision that prohibits discrimination against employees or applicants because they “associate with” someone who is disabled. For example, an employer cannot refuse to hire an applicant because it fears the applicant’s disabled child’s high insurance costs.
Let’s take a look at the facts of Overley v. Covenant Transport. In that case, the defendant, Covenant Transport, required its employees to work through the weekends during the holidays, unless an employee had pre-approved leave. The plaintiff, Overley, preferred to not work on the weekends in order to visit her disabled daughter in a nursing home. As a result, Overley went on leave, even though Covenant never approved the leave. Consequently, Covenant terminated Overley.
Overley sued Covenant for terminating her, arguing that her termination was because she “associated with” her disabled daughter. Unfortunately, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (the federal court of appeals that includes Ohio) found for Covenant because the company had proven that it had terminated Overley for a legitimate business reason – missing work– and not because she might be absent because of her daughter’s disability.
The problem with this case is that Overley got an employment attorney way too late in the process. Had she consulted a qualified employment attorney before leaving, she would have known to make a request for accommodation before just not showing up to work. The law is here to protect employees but those employees need a guide to help them. Waiting too late to consult with an employment lawyer may result in the same outcome that Overley got.
If you are disabled or associated with someone that is disabled; and you have been fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, denied wages, or even think that you might need a disability discrimination lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. The best option is not to wait. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting disables employees’ rights under ADA and Ohio law.
The materials available at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. It would be best for you to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to disability discrimination questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm or any individual attorney.