CNA unable to show she can perform essential functions to carry ADA claim
Case name: McDaniel v. Integracare Holdings, Inc., No. 4:11-CV-743-A (N.D. Tex. 10/26/12).
Ruling: The U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas granted summary judgment to an employer on a CNA's claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
What it means: A worker's receipt of Social Security disability benefits may prevent her from establishing a disability discrimination claim under the ADA if she fails to explain her representation in her disability application that she was unable to work.
A certified nurse's aide injured her left shoulder while assisting a patient. She sought medical treatment and returned to work in a light-duty capacity. She underwent surgery and returned to light-duty work. When there was no longer light-duty work available, the employer placed her on Family and Medical Leave Act leave. After the CNA exhausted her leave, the employer placed her on inactive status until she informed the employer of her intent to return to work and provided a full release from her treating physician. The CNA filed a charge of disability discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She also applied for and was granted disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. The U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas granted summary judgment to the employer on her claim of disability discrimination.
In her application for disability benefits, the CNA repeatedly claimed that she was completely unable to use her left arm for work. This was inconsistent with her argument that she could perform the functions of her position with an accommodation. She failed to explain the inconsistency.
The CNA asserted that she received disability benefits because she was diagnosed with depression after being placed on inactive status. The court disagreed, stating that the "overwhelming evidence" showed that the basis of her claim for benefits was her inability to work due to her shoulder injury.
The court also said that even if it were to disregard her application for disability benefits, she failed to establish a prima facie case of disability discrimination. She was unable to perform the essential functions of her position without an accommodation. The court also pointed out that her doctor had not released her to return to work.
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March 11, 2013
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