Weld County has called on the US Supreme Court to review a ruling that narrowly lost on appeal last year that allowed a former employee to sue jurisdiction for neglecting her disability.
After a rare hearing attended by all judges on the U.S. 10th District Court of Appeal, Laurie Exby-Stolley received a 7-6 decision in October to sue the district for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act although it has not taken any adverse action against their employment. The majority of the judges concluded that an employee does not have to be dismissed or demoted to be entitled to a job because it does not do it adequately.
“There is significant disagreement among the lower courts over the elements of an ADA disregard complaint,” Weld County’s attorneys wrote to the Supreme Court. “There is an urgent need to review this court for clarification.”
The judges have not yet decided whether they will consider the case in the next term of the court.
Exby-Stolley worked as the county health inspector but broke her right arm while working in 2009. As a result, it took longer to complete inspections and required the use of tools. There was a dispute over the extent to which Weld County had accommodated her handicap and whether Exby-Stolley had resigned voluntarily or was coerced.
According to the ADA, employers must interact with a disabled worker to take reasonable accommodation, which may include changing work schedules, reassignments, or the use of adaptive equipment. To make a legal claim, an employee must be discriminated against in a way that affects the terms, conditions, or privileges of his or her employment. Whether this wording necessarily refers to a dismissal, downgrade, or some other adverse measure is controversial.
After suing the county under the ADA, a jury found that she had failed to demonstrate that she was fired or otherwise suffered an adverse measure due to her disability. A three-judge panel of the 10th district agreed 2-1 that the court had properly directed the jury, but Exby-Stolley requested and received an “en banc” hearing before the entire 10th district membership.
A majority of the appellate judges overturned the panel, noting that it made little sense for Congress to require employers to accept disabled workers if those workers had to wait to be fired to take legal action.
“The adoption of such a legal construction would have the consequence that the scope of the adequacy obligation of the ADA would be considerably restricted by the use of a language (ie ’employment-damaging act’) that does not even appear in the legal text. wrote Judge Jerome A. Holmes For the majority.
“Congress had no intention of creating a ‘super’ human resources department,” fired Judge Carolyn B. McHugh on behalf of the six-member minority.
On his appeal, Weld County argued that the 13 federal appeals courts are almost equally divided on whether failure to consider a claim requires an adverse employment lawsuit. Employers, according to the jurisdiction, need to know how to comply with the law, and workers also deserve clarity on how to secure their rights under the ADA.
“[T]The refusal of placement must have a detrimental effect on the working conditions and the work privileges of the employee and must not just withhold something that the employee would like to have, “said the district.
Exby-Stolley asked the Supreme Court not to hear the appeal, arguing that there wasn’t nearly as much disagreement among the appeals courts as Weld County claimed. It is sufficient not to take an ADA-related precaution to violate the terms of employment.
There is also a possible, wrote her attorney Jason Wesoky, that during the new trial a jury could hear her allegations of being forced to resign for lack of accommodation in what is known as a constructive dismissal. If so, there would be no need to hear the Weld County appeal. “because the county agrees, as must be, that the layoff is an ‘adverse employment measure’. “
The case is Board of County Commissioners versus Exby-Stolley.
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