Conflicting facts cannot support technician's ADA, FMLA, WC claims
Williams v. AT&T Inc., et al., No. 09-20231 (5th Cir. 12/18/09, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for AT&T Inc. in a former employee's suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and workers' compensation and federal employment laws.
What it means: In the 5th Circuit, a history of disciplinary and performance problems can undermine an employee's claims of disability discrimination once an employer decides to discharge the employee. Moreover, an employee must be able to provide detailed information showing that he has a qualifying physical or mental condition that meets the applicable law's standards.
Summary: An AT&T technician was having performance problems and was placed on "decision making leave." He claimed he injured his leg and submitted a workers' compensation claim. However, he listed different times and dates when the injury allegedly occurred. His claim was rejected, and AT&T terminated him because he showed no improvement in his performance. During the termination meeting, the technician requested and was denied FMLA leave. He alleged he was subjected to retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim. The court determined he did not show causation to support a retaliation claim. It noted that the technician had been counseled regarding his performance problems for two years before he was discharged. The fact that supervisors were aware of his workers' compensation claim did not negate the fact that AT&T had a valid business reason for discharging him, the court said. The 5th Circuit affirmed summary judgment for AT&T.
The technician also sued under the ADA and FMLA. The court held that the technician failed to establish that he was disabled under the ADA or that he had a serious medical condition under the FMLA. He did not produce evidence of an actual disability or that his supervisor perceived him as disabled. Moreover, his related claims of retaliation failed because the adverse actions occurred before he submitted EEO complaints. The technician also did not include the retaliation allegations in his EEO complaint. Thus, the claims were not exhausted, the court said.
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January 28, 2010
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