McGowan v. State of Washington Department of Labor and Industries, et al., No. 08-35813 (9th Cir. 01/25/10, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined the worker failed to establish the Washington Department of Labor and Industries improperly denied him workers' compensation benefits.
What it means: To state a valid discrimination claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Rehabilitation Act, an applicant who was denied workers' compensation benefits must establish his disability was the reason for the denial.
Summary: A worker filed a workers' compensation claim that was repeatedly rejected by the Department of Labor and Industries. The department noted he failed to provide proof of a specific injury at a definite time and place during the course of his employment. He also did not show his condition was the result of an industrial injury or an occupational disease. The department requested his signature on three occasions, a list of doctors who treated him, and a military/veterans release form to obtain his records, all of which he ignored. The worker sued the department for violating the ADA and Rehabilitation Act by denying him benefits. The 9th Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the department. It upheld the finding that no reasonable jury could determine that the worker stated a valid discrimination claim under either act.
The 9th Circuit explained that to prove a public program violates the ADA, the worker must show: 1) that he is a qualified individual with a disability; 2) he was denied the benefits of a public entity's services, programs or activities, or was otherwise discriminated against by the public entity; and 3) the denial of benefits or discrimination was because of his disability.
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March 25, 2010
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