SW Legal studies in Business

EEOC Has Discretion to Define Disabilities Posing Risks to Employees in Employment
Description The Supreme Court upheld the rulemaking authority of the EEOC under the Americans with Disabilities Act to allow employers certain business necessity defenses for refusing to hire disabled persons, such as when a position would pose a health or safety risk to a prospective employee.
Topic Administrative Law
Key Words Rulemaking, Discretion, EEOC
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Echazabal worked for an independent contractor doing work at a Chevron refinery. When Echazabal applied for work with Chevron, the company refused to hire him because of a liver condition, which Chevron doctors said would be made worse by exposure to toxins at the refinery. The independent contractor fired him because of the health risk. Echazabal sued for disability discrimination. Chevron responded that there was an EEOC regulation that permitted the defense that a worker's disability on the job would pose a direct threat to his health. The trial court held for Chevron; the appeals court reversed, finding the regulation exceeded the permissible rulemaking authority of the EEOC under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Chevron appealed.

Reversed. The EEOC regulation permits employers to screen out potential workers with a disability for risks on the job to his health or safety. Congress has not spoken directly on this particular issue, but the regulation stands under the power that Congress gave the EEOC to define standards related to business necessity when dealing with disabled employees. The EEOC is due deference in making such regulations directly relate to the general power Congress gave it.

Citation Chevron U.S.A. v. Echazabal, 122 S.Ct. 2045 (2002)

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