Olson v. United States, 980 F.3d 1334 (9th Cir. 2020)

Andrea Olson provided reasonable accommodation services to employers such as the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to facilitate their compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Olson began experiencing anxiety and requested, among other things, that she be allowed to telework to reduce her time spent onsite. After consulting with its legal counsel, BPA offered Olson a trial work period and continued telework and also made efforts to restore her to an equivalent position. However, BPA never provided Olson notice of her FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) rights. The district court held a bench trial and determined that BPA’s alleged interference with Olson’s FMLA rights was not willful and, therefore, the applicable statute of limitations was two rather than three years. Because Olson waited more than two years to commence this action, the district court entered judgment in favor of BPA. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding there was insufficient evidence that BPA acted willfully because it “either knew or showed reckless disregard for the matter of whether its conduct was prohibited by statute” (citing McLaughlin v. Richard Shoe Co., 486 U.S. 128 (1988)).