Case name: Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, et al., No. 07-4285 (3d Cir. 08/18/09).
The 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated and remanded the dismissal of a housekeeper's Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act suit against a hospital.
What it means:
In the 3d Circuit, a four-year statute of limitations applies to failure-to-transfer claims brought under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act.
A hospital housekeeper was injured at work. When she returned from leave, she temporarily held a light-duty position. She applied for other permanent positions at the hospital that would meet her work restrictions but never received a call or an interview. The hospital terminated her employment, stating that her light-duty position had been eliminated. The housekeeper sued under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act. She also joined in existing class action suits brought against the hospital by other employees who were not accommodated with transfers after sustaining injuries.
The District Court severed the class action suits and dismissed the housekeeper's individual suit due to lack of timeliness, applying a two-year statute of limitations. The housekeeper appealed. The 3d Circuit reversed and remanded the case. It determined that a four-year statute of limitations applied to failure-to-transfer claims under the Rehabilitation Act and ADA. It reasoned that failure-to-transfer claims were created under the 1991 amendments to the Civil Rights Act. Applying this rule and using the housekeeper's discharge date as the starting date, the 3d Circuit determined the housekeeper's claims were timely.
The 3d Circuit also held that the housekeeper's complaint contained sufficient facts to state a failure-to-transfer claim. She alleged that she was injured at work, that the injuries caused the hospital to regard her as disabled, that there were vacant positions for which she applied that met her medical restrictions and that she was not contacted about or transferred to any of the positions because of her perceived disability.
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October 1, 2009
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