Knee injury, drug addiction claims fail to create ADA liability for hospital
Case name: Love v. Baptist Memorial Hospital, No. 2:10CV176-SA-JMV (N.D. Miss. 09/25/12).
Ruling: The U.S. District Court, Northern District of Mississippi granted summary judgment to a hospital on a nurse's claims of discrimination and retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
What it means: Under the ADA, an individual with a disability is entitled to a reasonable accommodation, not the accommodation of her choice.
Summary: A registered nurse for a hospital fell asleep at work twice. She claimed that a coworker made a comment that led other nurses to believe she was a drug addict. Later, the nurse suffered a knee injury at work while attempting to move a patient. She was placed on sedentary duty and used a wheelchair at work. After discrepancies between narcotics disbursement and the nurse's record-keeping, the nurse was suspended and ultimately terminated. The nurse contended that the hospital regarded her as having the disability of a drug addiction because her sleep apnea and thyroid problems caused her to sleep at work. She also claimed that she was regarded as disabled because of her knee injury. The U.S. District Court, Northern District of Mississippi granted summary judgment to the hospital.
The court construed her claim regarding her knee injury to be a claim that the hospital failed to reasonably accommodate her. When the nurse was released to return to work, she indicated that she would rather stay home to recuperate. She met with her supervisor, and they developed a "transitional employment plan" that indicated her sedentary duty work. The court explained that the claim failed because the hospital provided her with a reasonable accommodation pursuant to her doctor's restrictions.
Regarding the nurse's allegations that actions were taken because of her perceived drug use, the court found the allegations were unfounded. There was no indication in the record that her supervisor suspected that she had a drug problem. Even if she established a prima facie case, she failed to present evidence that her treatment was a pretext for or motivated by discrimination.
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January 14, 2013
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