Client Alert
October, 2017
Extended Medical Leaves and the ADA: Court Provides Much-Needed, Long-Awaited Clarity
Seneczko, Alan
Contact Attorney Al Seneczko in our Oconomowoc office at
(262) 560-9696 or by email at
By Alan E. Seneczko, Esq.
"The ADA is an antidiscrimination statute, not a medical-leave entitlement." These are the words employers have been waiting more than 25 years to hear, since the date the ADA first became effective, and even more so after the passage of the Family Medical Leave Act in 1993. They address an issue that has vexed employers since day one; that is, whether the duty to accommodate requires an employer to provide an extended medical leave after an employee has exhausted all of the medical leave available to him under the FMLA. The EEOC has vigorously contended that it does, particularly where the proposed leave is of a definite, time limited duration; requested in advance; and, likely to enable the employee to perform the essential functions of his job upon his return. On September 20, 2017, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals flatly rejected the EEOC's contention.

In Severson v. Heartland Woodcraft, Case No. 15-3754 (7 th Cir. 2017), the court addressed an issue that is now commonplace for employers: An employee had a serious back problem. He took 12 weeks of FMLA, then, upon the exhaustion of his FMLA, notified his employer that he was having surgery and requested a two-month extension. The employer denied his request, terminated his employment and invited him to reapply once he was released to return to work. However, when the employee was released three months later, he did not reapply. Instead, he sued, claiming the employer had failed to accommodate his disability by refusing to grant him an extended medical leave.

The Holidays Are A'Comin
By Walter J. Liszka, Esq.
Over the past few years, the author has written a "Holiday Article" to provide some guidance/legal insight into the somewhat complicated "Business Holiday Party". I have received numerous suggestions and/or recommendations (and some good natured kidding), but I am not detoured! It is never too early to begin planning for the Holiday Season of Calendar 2017!

There is no doubt whatsoever that the festive season of November and December calls out every year for a business celebration and it is incumbent upon all Employers to be well prepared both for the party and the potential problems that it can create. Do not forget that we are a highly litigious society and individuals are always looking to "stick it to somebody" to enhance their financial standing. It is not too far-fetched to believe that Employers may be liable for injuries caused to innocent third parties under the doctrine of Respondeat Superior and, therefore, any Employer-related activity must be planned and controlled.

Here are a few suggestions:

Contact Attorney Walter Liszka in our Chicago office at (312) 629-9300 or by email at
New Exemptions to the ACA's Contraception Mandate & Final Versions of the 2017 Forms 1094-C and 1095-C
Hansen, Peter.jpg
Contact Attorney Peter Hansen in our St. Charles office at
(630) 377-1554 or by email at
By Peter E. Hansen, Esq.
On October 6, 2017, the Trump administration issued new rules exempting both religious and non-religious employers that object to the ACA's contraceptive mandate, which requires most employers to provide contraceptive services at no out-of-pocket cost, based on sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions. Predictably, multiple organizations and attorneys general announced that they will challenge and/or sue the Trump administration over the new rules (and several already have); however, until the outcome of those challenges and lawsuits are decided, the new rules govern.

Notably, the new rules do not provide guidance on how employers can prove "sincerely held religious beliefs" or "sincerely held moral convictions." Rather, the new rules state only that that whether an employer "adopted and holds such principles is a matter of well-established State law with respect to corporate decision-making" and that the departments "would expect that such principles or views would have been adopted and documented." So, in order to prove that corporate decision-making adopted and holds sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions, the sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions should probably be adopted and documented ... somehow.

Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Clears Employer From Race Bias Suit
By Nancy E. Joerg, Esq.
This discrimination case is a heartening legal victory for the employer.

A Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals panel agreed with defendant employer Freedom Mortgage Co. in a racial discrimination suit filed by an African-American former employee. The Seventh Circuit upheld a lower court's ruling that the former employee didn't have proof that the employer fired him because he was African-American.

The former employee, Joseph Reed, said the Company disciplined him more harshly than White co-workers for tardiness.

Reed had a history of attendance problems. Reed was fired as part of a staffing reduction (along with a White employee and another African-American employee).

Contact Attorney Nancy Joerg in our St. Charles office at
(630) 377-1554 or by email at
Connect with Wessels Sherman 
Upcoming Seminars and Events

Firing without Fear: Strategies to Protect Employers, In-Person Breakfast Seminar, St. Charles, Illinois, Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 8:30-11 am
The attorneys of Wessels Sherman have the superior experience, knowledge and leadership to aggressively represent your business nationwide, including St. Charles, Chicago and Cook County, Illinois; Oconomowoc, Wisconsin; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Davenport, Iowa and the entire Quad Cities area.  

CLIENT ALERT Editor-in-Chief........Walter J. Liszka
Minnesota........................................James B. Sherman
Wisconsin.........................................Alan E. Seneczko
Iowa.................................................Joseph H. Laverty
Illinois...............................................Nancy E. Joerg  
The Client Alert is a complimentary newsletter published periodically for clients and friends of Wessels Sherman. We reserve the right to limit distribution of our materials to representatives of management. The materials in this newsletter have been abridged from a variety of sources and are not necessarily applicable to a particular situation. The contents of this mailing should not be construed as legal advice. State laws vary. Readers should consult with legal counsel before taking any action on matters covered by this mailing.