Ruling helps define 'disability' under ADA Law

by on January 14, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

ADA lawsuit finds worker with diabetes was not legally disabled

Just because a worker has a disability doesn’t mean when he says “Jump!” his employer must ask “How high?” or risk losing an ADA lawsuit.

Disrupted schedule
Joseph Mikruk worked at the post office on a 6:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. shift. Mikruk had diabetes and controlled his disability with insulin and diet. For several years he timed his meals to coincide with the end of his shift.

The troubles began when Mikruk’s entire department was assigned a new shift – from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Mikruk refused to report to work, claiming the new hours would throw his schedule out of whack.

Eventually, Mikruk was terminated. He filed an ADA lawsuit charging disability discrimination. According to him, his employer refused to accommodate his disability.

But a court ruled in favor of the employer. In reaching its decision, the judge noted the employer had offered to give Mikruk a midday meal and medicine break, but Mikruk refused.

The court also considered how Mikruk’s nondisabled colleagues were treated. None of them were allowed to change their shifts. If they had been allowed, that may have suggested discrimination.

The court also noted that despite his diabetes, Mikruk did not even have a disability under ADA guidelines because he did not show how his disability impaired his ability to perform his job.

Cite: Mikruk v. USPS, U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit, No. 03-3192, 10/27/04.

HR 3.12

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