As we’ve cautioned in the past, the Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal law to which small business owners must pay particularly close attention. We’ve advised in prior issues of so-called “drive-by lawsuits”, where individuals use the ADA as a club by which to extort settlements from business owners. But, the law has real teeth and requires employers to make “reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, even disabilities that might not be apparent on the surface. We learned recently of a lawsuit brought by the government (EEOC) on behalf of an individual who claimed protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act for chronic bronchitis and chronic pulmonary obstructive disorder. Essentially, certain fragrances and smells aggravated her condition and in light of those “disabilities”, the employee, Elizabeth Pennell, asked for permission to telework to avoid the problem-causing scents. Her multiple requests were all rejected, and failing to reach a settlement with employer, Advanced Home Care, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit with the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief. The regional attorney for the EEOC Charlotte office had some advice that may be good for some to hear again: “Employers must be flexible in evaluating requests from their employees for reasonable accommodation.” And speaking of the ADA, the federal Department of Justice has also jumped into a New Jersey transgender case in the hope of averting a constitutional challenge over the ADA exclusion of transgender rights as a disability. DOJ has asked the court to not address the plaintiff’s contention that a provision of the ADA that denies protection for “transsexualism” and “gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairment” is unconstitutional.