Friday, August 5, 2011

Knee Surgery Arthritis Found Non-Impairing for ADA Claim

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, an injured person must demonstrate both a disability and that the disability is an impairment on them.  Before I discuss what exactly this entails I thought the case of Evans v. MAAX-KSD Corp. would provide a good example of how an employer will defend an ADA case in regards to the workers' claimed disability.

In October 2004, Evans underwent knee surgery and was on disability leave until February 2005.  Evans, also suffered from arthritis and Lyme disease.  In his lawsuit he alleged that three months after his return to work, in May, he was deliberately put on a job requiring extensive lifting, squatting and walking in an effort to cause him to resign and/or cause his knee to be re-damaged. In response, Evans gave his plant manager a doctor's note requiring light duty.  Evans' manager told him his condition would be accommodated.

But, according to Evans, the plant manager did not accommodate him.  Resultantly, in June of 2005, Evans applied for disability.  The company rejected the application. Evans then filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Then, due to his condition of arthritis and Lyme disease, Evans was forced to leave work and was off from June 2005 until October 2005.

Upon his return, Evans' alleged that the same plant manager singled him out to do heavy lifting. Evans again requested a reasonable accommodation and his request, this time, was allegedly flat out rejected. Shortly thereafter, Evans' employment was terminated.

Evans then sued MAAX-KSD. Evans claimed his employer had violated his rights udner the Americans with Disabilities Act and Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.  Plaintiff's counsel argued that the defendant discriminated against him by failing to satisfy his requests for reasonable accommodation during the course of his employment and by terminating him on Nov. 1, 2005. Counsel further asserted that Evans' employer retaliated against him as a result of his requests for reasonable accommodation and disability discrimination and his claim under the PHRC.

The employer denied the allegations and argued that Evans could not establish a case under either the ADA or the PHRA because he was not disabled within the meaning of those statutes. Defense counsel also argued that the plaintiff was not retaliated against because he filed a PHRC Complaint.

MAAX-KSD moved for summary judgment at the time of trial.  Summary judgment was granted in favor of the employer and Evans' case was dismissed.

The summary judgment was granted because the court determined that Evans failed to establish that he was substantially impaired in a major life activity and therefore was not "disabled" within the meaning of the ADA or PHRA. The court further agreed that plaintiff failed to demonstrate any causal link between the filing of his PHRC complaint and his termination three months later. As a result, the court determined that, by law, Evans could not make out a sufficient claim to bring his case before a jury. Share this post :
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on StumbleUpon
Share on Delicious
Share on Reddit
Share on Digg
Share on simpy
Share on Technorati
furl Share on furl
Feeds RSS Subscribe to Feeds RSS

No comments:

Post a Comment