Injured employee must show adverse action to support discrimination claim
Case name: Maresca v. Blue Ridge Communications, No. 09-2470 (3d Cir. 02/05/10, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for a cable television company in a former employee's Americans with Disabilities Act and Age Discrimination in Employment Act suit.
What it means: An employee asserting a claim under the ADA or related laws must be able to show that he qualifies as disabled at the time of an alleged adverse action, regardless of whether he met the definition of disability at another time. Moreover, the employee cannot claim that his employer took an adverse action if he did not make it known that he sought reinstatement or accommodations.
An installer for a cable television company was injured in a job-related car accident. He took total disability leave and pursued a workers' compensation claim. The installer and the company's insurance provider settled the workers' compensation claim, agreeing to a lump-sum award of $38,000. The company terminated the employee under the collective bargaining agreement provision for an employee who has been out for five years. The installer sued under the ADA and the ADEA, arguing that he should have been reinstated rather than discharged. The 3d Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the company. The court ruled that the employee did not demonstrate that he had a disability under the law. He testified that he had no remaining physical limitations when he was discharged, and there was no medical evidence of disability at that time, the court said.
The installer also did not provide evidence that the company regarded him as disabled. The court held that the company did not take an adverse employment action against the installer. The installer never requested reinstatement to his position or any other, the court stated. The court added that an employer cannot be forced to assume that an injured employee wants to and is able to return.
As for the installer's ADEA claim, the court cited the same evidence that there was no adverse action taken against the installer.
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April 8, 2010
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