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• November 14-15, 2018 - Psychoeducational and Spiritual Needs of Missionary Kids (see flier and brochure)

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About Telios Law

Telios Law is a Colorado law firm serving religious ministries, individuals, and businesses across the Front Range and beyond, including internationally, representing them in complex situations, litigation, appeals, and alternatives to litigation.

Our firm name reflects our approach to legal practice. “Telios” means “complete, perfect, or whole," and it is related to the word for finishing or completing. “Telios” defines successful results in terms of being complete, whole, or mature. Excellent legal work is important, but wasted unless it makes your business, personal life, or ministry more whole and helps you achieve your vision more perfectly. Legal services are expensive, and legal conflict has high costs financially and otherwise. Telios Law helps you consider whether legal solutions help bring completeness in your business, ministry, or personal life, and which legal solutions are likely to reach your desired end.

Telios Law’s religious organizations and secular corporate practice ranges from advising on legal and policy issues—with a special emphasis on First Amendment policies, international law, crisis management, child protection policies and practices, and employment—to assisting with internal investigations, business disputes, and litigation defense. Our business litigation practice includes appellate law, usually as appellate co-counsel with other attorneys who have served as trial counsel. Through our civil rights litigation practice, Telios Law also advocates for equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities, assists children and families with special needs, and holds the government accountable when individual rights are infringed.


ADA - Part 1: Monitoring Spiritual and Mental Health Without Violating the ADA

A new Sixth Circuit case, Kroll v. White Lake Ambulance Authority, decided on August 22, 2012, potentially raises a new set of problems for churches and mission organizations. Requiring employees to get mental health counseling is likely a violation of the Americans with Disabilities except in certain narrow circumstances. Religious organizations should consider what circumstances apply and be prepared. 

In Kroll, a part-time Emergency Medical Technician had an affair at work with a married co-worker and began to show signs of distress, which included some outbursts at work. For instance, one complaint said she was screaming on the phone while driving a loaded vehicle in emergency status with lights and sirens. She was instructed to get counseling to continue working. She did not return to work, but filed suit.

The question for the court was whether an instruction to get counseling was a “medical examination” under the statute (42 U.S.C. § 12112(d)(4)(A)) that prohibits employers from requiring a medical examination or inquiring about whether an employee has a disability, “unless such examination or inquiry is shown to be job-related and consistent with business necessity.” The employer argued that it was not a medical examination.

The court considered a seven-factor test provided by EEOC Enforcement Guidance, as well as the EEOC’s distinction between psychological tests that are designed to identify mental disorders or impairment (“medical examination”) and tests that measure personality traits (not “medical examinations”). After lengthy analysis, the court concluded that Kroll was ordered to counseling to uncover a mental health defect. This was impermissible unless there was a job-related business necessity. The case was remanded for the district court to consider the business necessity point.

Churches may be able to avoid this dilemma by defining job requirements in terms of expected behavior and spiritual qualifications that are objectively measureable. For instance, both having an affair and serious outbursts of temper might be legitimate cause for employment discipline in the faith context. (Even in the example above, the employer might have been better off focusing on the fact that the EMT was endangering the patient in the ambulance rather than sending her to counseling.) Also, pastoral counseling around character traits could be less likely a “medical examination.”

Mission organizations have the additional responsibility of making sure their personnel function in stressful and dangerous situations. For some assignments, they may need to write job descriptions that require job-related mental stability as a business necessity. This could allow the option to call someone home for mental illness, or to require a “medical examination” and treatment for the illness.

The Church should regard with compassion conditions such as mental illness and depression. Legally, religious organizations usually may not discriminate on the basis of such disabilities. But they may need to take steps to protect the spiritual integrity of their mission and to keep workers safe on the field.

More Blogs in the "ADA" Series: Part 1Part 2Part 3

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