One of the critical stages in many disability discrimination cases is when the employee gets a new manager or supervisor, who does not understand - or is insensitive to - an accommodation formerly extended to a person with a disability. As this First Circuit case reveals, a botched switch in the gears can create a triable issue of fact for a jury about whether the employee was denied reasonable accommodations.
Plaintiff, a fired bridge crew member in Southern Illinois, wins the opportunity to try his claims of ADA regarded-as disability discrimination and retaliation against IDOT. Plaintiff claims that the agency believed him to be substantially limited in the major life activity of work, owing to his acrophobia, and that he was fired after complaining about being given dangerous duty beyond his limitations.
It is a shame for the development of the law when useful opinions like this one go unpublished. A 2-1 panel of the Fourth Circuit wades into two EEO issues that divide the circuits, holding in this ADA case that (1) appellate review of a district court order granting equitable tolling of the 90-day limitations period is only for abuse of discretion, not de novo; and (2) reasonable accommodation of an employee's disability may require advising the employee of available opportunities to transfer.
One of the conundrums Congress left us in the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act is how to draw the line between those "currently engaging in the illegal use of drugs," 42 U.S.C. § 12114(a) -- who are not protected from discrimination under the Act -- and those recovered or otherwise not "engaging" in such drug use under 42 U.S.C. § 12114(b). As the latest decision on this subject reveals, applying these sections to real-life facts is akin to nailing Jell-o to the wall.