Federal Appeals Updates

Hanson Bridgett Brings Home Appellate Victory for California Employers, Defeating ‘Boss-ectomy’ Claims

Adam Hofmann 
Adam Hofmann
May 28, 2015

California employers have been facing increasing incidents of so-called “boss-ectomy” claims, in which an employee claims to be disabled as a result of anxiety, depression, or other mental condition caused by the stress of working for a particular supervisor. As a result of her condition, the employee asserts a right to extended leave and a change of supervisor as an accommodation for her disability. Tuesday’s decision in Higgins-Williams v. Sutter Medical Foundation should put an end to that.

Applying the well-established standard for demonstrating a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, federal courts have universally concluded that an employee’s inability to work with a particular supervisor is not a “substantial limitation” on a major life activity and, therefore, is not a disability protected by the ADA. (See, e.g., Kennedy v. Dresser Rand Co. (2nd Cir. 1999) 193 F.3d 120; Gaul v. Lucent Technologies, Inc. (3rd Cir. 1998) 134 F.3d 576; Weiler v. Household Fin. Corp. (7th Cir. 1996) 101 F.3d 519.) California plaintiffs, however, have asserted that an employee’s inability to work with an assigned supervisor satisfies the lesser standard for demonstrating a disability under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, which recognizes conditions that merely limit—as opposed to substantially limit—a major life activity.

Continue reading Hanson Bridgett Brings Home Appellate Victory for California Employers, Defeating ‘Boss-ectomy’ Claims

Proposed Changes To Federal Appellate Rules Face Opposition

Adam Hofmann 
Adam Hofmann
February 25, 2015

In August 2014, the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States proposed to change Rule 32 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure to reduce the permissible length of appellate briefs. Comments on the proposed rule change were due February 17, 2015, and the responses have been almost universally negative.

Continue reading Proposed Changes To Federal Appellate Rules Face Opposition