Wednesday, August 12, 2015

ADA – Partial Win for Employer

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals had another opportunity to consider a claim brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  This time, the court awarded only a partial victory to the employer and allowed one of the plaintiff’s ADA claims to proceed to trial in federal court.

In Silk v. Board of Trustees, Moraine Valley Community College, the Seventh Circuit recently ruled that the lower court did not err in granting defendant-College's motion for summary judgment in plaintiff-adjunct professor's Americans with Disabilities Act action alleging that his teaching assignments were given to others on account of his perceived heart condition. 

The court found that although plaintiff was forced to take leave of absence that was related to his heart condition in spring of 2010, the reassignment of his summer school courses did not violate the ADA because:  (1) plaintiff never advised his employer of possible return date following his leave of absence; and (2) employer’s decision-maker merely regarded plaintiff as being "absent," as opposed to being disabled, during relevant scheduling period when final decisions had to be made regarding summer school assignments. 

However, the Seventh Circuit found that the lower court did err in granting the employer’s motion for summary judgment with respect to plaintiff's reduced fall 2010 teaching schedule, where plaintiff raised factual dispute as to whether decision-maker stated that reduced schedule was based on belief that plaintiff could not physically handle normal teaching assignments.

Again, this decision is another example of why it is critical for employers and human resources professionals to understand the ADA’s requirements and, of course, to follow them.  Ancel Glink’s team of labor and employment attorneys are available to help guide you through the ADA maze.