Case name: Richardson v. Friendly Ice Cream Corp., No. 08-2423 (1st Cir. 02/05/10).
The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for a restaurant in a former employee's Americans with Disabilities Act and state law suit.
What it means: An employee who fills a managerial or supervisory role in a small business where there is limited staff may be called upon to perform all of the duties necessary to conduct the business. Therefore, an inability to perform many of the duties caused by a disability or injury may prevent the employee from being qualified for the position under the ADA and related laws.
Summary: An assistant manager for a restaurant developed shoulder impingement syndrome on the job. She adapted the way she performed some of her physical duties and obtained help from staff for others. The manager took leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act for shoulder surgery. Her doctors issued medical restrictions on lifting and repetitive activities when they released her to work several weeks after the 12-week leave period. The restaurant discharged the manager because she was not qualified to perform her job. She sued under the ADA and state law. The 1st Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the restaurant. The court held that the manager was unable to perform the essential functions of her job, and thus did not have a claim under the disability discrimination laws.
The manager argued that her primary duties were overseeing the operations of the restaurant and making sure all the workers did their jobs. However, the restaurant countered with job descriptions and testimony indicating that, with a limited staff, the assistant managers needed to perform all the duties necessary to run the restaurant, including many physical tasks that the injured manager could not perform. The manager admitted she could not scoop ice cream, empty the fryer basket, unload deliveries, empty garbage, or do other required tasks. The court concluded that the number of tasks the manager was unable to perform was too great to be qualified for her job.
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March 11, 2010
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