There dismal outcomes for plaintiffs: the Sixth Circuit holds that former employees lack standing under the ADA to sue for post-employment fringe benefits; the Eighth Circuit reaffirms its rule that an employer that quickly retracts an adverse action can entirely avoid Title VII liability; and the Seventh Circuit just affirms an ordinary ADA summary judgment.
McKnight v. General Motors Corp., No. 07-1479 (6th Cir. Dec. 4, 2008): Despite that the Supreme Court in Robinson v. Shell Oil Co., 519 U.S. 337 (1997), held that Title VII plaintiffs may sue employers for post-employment retaliation, the circuits are split over whether there can be post-employment standing under the ADA to sue for benefits. Here, the Sixth Circuit joins the Seventh and Ninth Circuits view that there is no standing to bring such a claim, at least where the former employee avows no intention to return to work.
Plaintiffs claiming that a provision in the plan that paid out reduced benefits for employees who qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDIB) violated Title I of the ADA. The panel takes note, though, that to have standing under Title I, the plaintiff must be a “qualified individual with a disability” (42 U.S.C. § 12112(a)) and that retired employees adjudged disabled by SSA do not meet that Threshold. The panel acknowledges that two other circuits (the Second and Third) have held that such standing exists, but after assaying the various precedents finds that the statutory language (in contrast to the anti-retaliation section of Title VII) does not support plaintiffs. The panel adds the condition that standing might exist is “disabled former employees . . . still ‘desire’ their former employment positions,” but that in this case the plaintiffs disavowed any interest in reinstatement. (And, in the interest of clean-up, the court holds that plaintiffs would have lost the claim on the merits anyway.)
Jackson v. UPS, Inc., No. 08-1343 (8th Cir. Dec. 4, 2008): Since at least Fair v. Norris, 480 F.3d 543 (8th Cir. 2005), the Eighth Circuit has nurtured a peculiar (and perhaps unique) rule that an employer may completely avoid liability for discrimination if it seasonably retracts an adverse action. The rule is applied here as well: the employee was disqualified in June 2006 from her job as feeder driver, filed a grievance and a charge, and was by September 2006 reinstated to the position with full back pay. Is there a claim for Title VII relief here for race and sex discrimination? The Eighth Circuit affirms that there is not: “In so holding, we do not find that rescinding a prior employment action will always shield an employer from liability. Such a broad rule would permit employers to escape Title VII liability merely by correcting their discriminatory acts after a significant amount of time has passed or only when litigation has been Threatened. See Crawford v. Carroll, 529 F.3d 961, 972 (11th Cir. 2008). However, holding that corrective action never protects an employer from liability might create equally perverse incentives. If we allow Jackson’s claim to proceed in the present case, we would undermine UPS’s formal grievance process. Indeed, if an employer could be sued for discrimination even after promptly correcting an alleged wrong, there would be little incentive for ‘the kind of extrajudicial corrective action envisioned by Congress when it passed Title VII.’ Fair, 480 F.3d at 870. Therefore, because UPS promptly reinstated Jackson with full back pay and seniority, its initial disqualification decision was not an adverse employment action.“
King v. City of Madison, No. 08-2052 (7th Cir. Dec. 4, 2008): Finally, here’s just a plain old affirmance in an ADA reasonable accommodation case, holding that employee lacked a claim because the plaintiff in fact received an accommodation, i.e., an offer to transfer to other less strenuous work under the collective bargaining agreement: “The record shows that the City complied with the collective bargaining agreement and considered King for other vacant positions. Based on the placement policies contained in the agreement, however, King had no right to bump another employee from the other available positions within her collective bargaining unit. She failed in her effort to obtain a position outside her unit because she was not the most qualified candidate. As far as this record shows, the City applied its disability layoff policies in a neutral, nondiscriminatory way and accommodated King as far as it could.“