Americans with Disabilities Act Anniversary and Payroll Tax Witholding

In this segment of ‘Employee Rights Update’, we aim to provide our subscribers with timely educational information from recent cases and laws.

25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act:  This week marks the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  In its essence, the law prohibits discrimination based on someone’s disability, requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodation” to employees with disabilities, and ensures access to public facilities.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) is tasked with enforcing the ADA and the agency strives for an ever-growing list of conditions – both mental and physical – that may be categorized as disabilities.

The spectrum of ADA discrimination begins with the job applicant, where an employer with at least 15 employees cannot discriminate against a qualified applicant with a disability.  It continues with protecting employees on the job from termination, demotion, harassment or unfair working conditions based on a disability.  One example of said protection is the “reasonable accommodation” which requires the employer to alter the way that the work may be completed, through special equipment or scheduling, to permit disabled individuals to perform their jobs.  However, employers are not required to provide the reasonable accommodation if it would result in “undue hardship” to the employer.  Undue hardship may come in the form of actions that may be extremely problematic or costly to the employer.  Nonetheless, the disabled employee must still complete the main functions of his/her job when he or she is provided with a reasonable accommodation.

If You Win a Case Against Your Former Employer, Be Prepared to Pay Payroll Taxes:  A recent California appeals court decision held that the losing employer, Costco in this case, may withhold payroll/employment taxes from the part of the judgment which compensated the former employee for lost earnings.  (Cifuentes v. Costco.)   The plaintiff won a breach of contract case and was awarded over $300,000.  Part of the judgment was for back and front pay.  The appeals court rationalized its decision by explaining that back and front pay penalties result from the employment relationship and therefore qualify as wages and should be taxable.  As minimum wages are set to keep rising, so too will the significance of this decision.  Currently, the minimum wages in some California cities such as San Francisco and Oakland is $12.25 and set to increase to $15 by July 1, 2018.  See these other blogs for more wage-related information.

If you believe that you suffered an employment law matter related to your employee rights or know of possible ADA discrimination or wage-related violation by your employer, prompt action to preserve your rights is critical.  Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options.