Posts Tagged ‘Ford Motor’

Sixth Circuit smacks EEOC on work-from-home accommodation

An 8-5 decision from (these days) one of the nation’s more liberal circuits in EEOC v. Ford Motor Company:

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to reasonably accommodate their disabled employees; it does not endow all disabled persons with a job—or job schedule—of their choosing. Jane Harris, a Ford Motor Company employee with irritable bowel syndrome, sought a job schedule of her choosing: to work from home on an as-needed basis, up to four days per week. Ford denied her request, deeming regular and predictable on-site attendance essential to Harris’s highly interactive job. Ford’s papers andpractices—and Harris’s three past telecommuting failures—backed up its business judgment.

Nevertheless, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued Ford under the ADA. It alleged that Ford failed to reasonably accommodate Harris by denying her telecommuting request and retaliated against her for bringing the issue to the EEOC’s attention. The district court granted summary judgment to Ford on both claims. We affirm.

More: Jon Hyman. On the EEOC’s many rebuffs in federal court, see here, here, here, here, etc.

Physical attendance not required? ADA and telecommuting, cont’d

If employers think they’ve got discretion to decide whether a job requires on-the-spot attendance, they’ve got another think coming [Daniel Schwartz, Jon Hyman]:

In EEOC v. Ford Motor Company, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals found that a former Ford employee could proceed to a trial on her claim that the company was required to allow her to telecommute on a regular basis. …

[The plaintiff was a] “resale buyer” at Ford who responded to emergency steel supply issues to make sure that parts manufacturers always had an adequate steel supply on hand.

According to Ford, her job required group problem solving, including interaction with other members of the resale team and suppliers….

[The court said that while] attendance at work is still an essential function of most jobs, “attendance” can no longer be assumed to mean presence at the physical workplace.

Instead, the court said, a jury should decide whether physical attendance is an “essential function” of the job under all the circumstances. Earlier here and, at Cato, here.

Liability roundup

  • By convention the business/defense side isn’t fond of jury trial while plaintiff’s side sings its praises, but Louisiana fight might turn that image on its head [Hayride, sequel at TortsProf (measure fails)]
  • Generous tort law, modern industrial economy, doing away with principle of limited liability: pick (at most) two of three [Megan McArdle]
  • Fallacies about Stella Liebeck McDonald’s hot coffee case go on and on, which means correctives need to keep coming too [Jim Dedman, DRI]
  • Interaction of products liability with workplace injury often provides multiple bites at compensation apple, overdue for reform [Michael Krauss]
  • Ford Motor is among most recent seeking to pull back the curtain on asbestos bankruptcy shenanigans [Daniel Fisher; related, Washington Examiner] “Page after page he sits on the straw man’s chest, punching him in the face” [David Oliver on expert affidavit in asbestos case]
  • Kansas moves to raise med-mal caps as directed by state supreme court, rebuffs business requests for collateral source rule reform [Kansas Medical Society]
  • Let’s hope so: “More stringent pleading for class actions?” [Matthew J.B. Lawrence via Andrew Trask, Class Strategist]

Autos roundup

  • Abuse of out-of-state motorists an issue: “The Perils of Policing for Profit: Why Tennessee should reform its civil asset forfeiture laws” [Beacon Center, earlier]
  • Manhattan: “Lawyer takes plea in $279M no-fault auto insurance fraud case” [ABA Journal]
  • “AAA Warns of ‘Dangerous’ Free Market in Parking Spaces” [Matt Yglesias, Slate via Tim Carney]
  • Negotiated rates on auto loans at dealerships might violate Obama administration’s disparate-impact guidelines [Roger Clegg]
  • Not great for Law dot com’s credibility: Corp Counsel mag throws in with “sudden acceleration” goofery; and here’s an effort to gear up acceleration claims against Ford too.
  • Ethanol group menaces Phillips with antitrust charge unless it alters franchiser rule [Alexander Cohen, Atlas]
  • “Two researchers call for installing technology to disable cellphones in moving cars” [L.A.Times via Fair Warning]

November 21 roundup

  • Spanish government fines filmmaker for movie poster showing “reckless driving” [Lowering the Bar] Siri, distracted driving, and police discretion [Balko]
  • Parents taking care of their kids under Michigan program must pay $30/mo. to SEIU for representation [Joel Gehrke, Examiner]
  • Stretching the Fifth: Joe Francis bad deposition behavior [Legal Ethics Forum]
  • WaPo covers deep split on Consumer Product Safety Commission, left wants fifth seat filled ASAP;
  • “Threat to Student Due Process Rights Dropped from Draft of Violence Against Women Act” [FIRE, background; Cathy Young/Reason]
  • After $300K donation from Philadelphia trial lawyers, you may call him “Judge Wecht” [AP/WPVI]
  • Court reverses $43M Madison County verdict against Ford [AP/Alton Telegraph, some background]

July 19 roundup

  • More on CPSC’s crib ban train wreck [Commissioner Anne Northup, more, earlier]
  • One man’s nightmare of false accusation [LA Times via PoL]
  • How many plaintiff’s-side flicks is HBO going to air this summer, anyway? [“Mann v. Ford,” Abnormal Use]
  • Apple granted “incredibly broad patent” over screen gesture technology [Tabarrok]
  • Will Congress reverse this term’s much-attacked SCOTUS decisions? [Alison Frankel] Podcast on Wal-Mart v. Dukes with Brian Fitzpatrick [Fed Soc] “Wal-Mart ruling no knock-out blow for class actions” [Reuters] Contrary to some assertions, current law does strongly incentivize individual job-bias claims [Bader] More on case: Dan Bushell, and welcome Craig Newmark readers.
  • Mississippi stops proceedings in $322 million asbestos case to consider judge’s possible conflict [JCL, earlier here, here]
  • Nice coat, where’dja get it? [annals of incompetent crime, UK Daily Mail]

Update: Branham v. Ford

In 2006, I wrote:

In May 2001, Cheryl Jane Hale was driving four children to a sleepover in her 1987 Ford Bronco. She didn’t bother to have the children wear their seat belts, so, when she took her eyes off the road to argue with the backseat passengers, and thus drove off the road and flipped the car, 12-year-old Jesse Branham was thrown from the car and suffered brain damage. A jury in Hampton County, South Carolina (the second jury to be impaneled—the first one was dismissed in a mistrial when it was discovered after two weeks of trial that five of the jurors were former clients of Branham’s lawyers) decided that this was only 45% Hale’s fault, held Ford 55% responsible, which puts Ford entirely on the hook for $31 million in damages.

On Monday, the South Carolina Supreme Court reversed because of prejudicial closing arguments that relied heavily on inadmissible evidence. More importantly for lawyers practicing in South Carolina, the Court adopted “the risk-utility test with its requirement of showing a feasible alternative design.”

How bad of a judicial hellhole is Hampton County? Though Hale was a co-defendant, she cooperated with the plaintiffs throughout the trial in their case against Ford, even sitting at the plaintiffs’ table; but because the judge classified Hale as a co-defendant, it meant that Hale got half of the peremptory challenges of the “defense.” More from Comer; no press coverage that I’ve seen yet. (cross-posted from Point of Law)