9th Circuit: Test Defined for Integrated Employers Under ADA


Employers with 15+ AK, AZ, CA, HI, ID, MT, NV, OR, WA, Guam, or North Mariana Islands Employees


April 7, 2022


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In Buchanan v. Watkins & Letofsky, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stated that the same test that applies under Title VII for determining whether employers are integrated, also applies to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Both Title VII and the ADA apply to employers with 15 or more employees. In situations where an employer has less than 15 employees, they still may meet the minimum threshold if they are an integrated employer whose employees total 15 or more.

The test for integrated employer under Title VII requires consideration of four factors: (1) interrelation of operations; (2) common management; (3) centralized control of labor relations; and (4) common ownership or financial control. Because Title VII and the ADA have long been analyzed in parallel fashion and the statutes include the same threshold and statutory enforcement scheme, the court stated that this same test applies in the context of ADA claims.

There, an employee claimed discrimination under the ADA for failure to accommodate her disability. She worked for one employer in Nevada with less than 15 employees. However, the employer had another business in California with common controls. Ultimately, the case was remanded to the lower courts to determine the number of total employees between the businesses.

Action Items

  1. Review ADA application to integrated employer groups.
  2. Have appropriate personnel trained on ADA requirements.
  3. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser. © 2022 ManagEase