Manager's workplace injury does not equal automatic ADA protection
Case name: Hagan v. Solideal Tire, Inc., No. 1:10 CV 241 (N.D. Ohio 08/08/11).
Ruling: The U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio granted summary judgment to a wholesaler on an employee's claim of disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
What it means: Evidence of an injury is not the same as evidence of a disability. To be disabled under the ADA of 1990, a plaintiff must show he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
Summary: A service manager for a tire wholesaler sustained a workplace injury when he was hit by a tire bar. Later, a customer ordered six tires and two tire tubes. The manager delivered the tires but returned with two tires and two tire tubes. The customer explained that the manager offered to cancel part of the order and sell him tires from his brother's tire company. The manager admitted his actions. The wholesaler terminated the manager. The manager sued under the ADA of 1990. The U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio granted summary judgment to the wholesaler.
The court found that the manager did not establish a prima facie case of disability discrimination. The court explained that evidence of an injury is not the same as evidence of a disability. Also, the wholesaler showed that the manager was able to care for himself and his son, complete many of the duties of his former position, exercise at the gym, and operate heavy equipment. The manager also could not show that he was replaced or that his position remained open.
Even if he set forth a prima facie case, the court found the wholesaler established a nondiscriminatory reason for the termination. The manager canceled a sale to a customer and sold the customer the items through his brother. The court pointed out that the manager did not maintain that disability was the primary reason for his termination. The court also noted that the manager did not bring a claim for retaliation for his workers' compensation claim. The manager did not show the wholesaler's reason was pretextual.
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September 29, 2011
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