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30 Days of ADA Cases

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DeWitt v. Proctor Hospital

Citation

517 F.3d 944 (7th Cir. 2008)

Why this case is important

Court rules that people who associate with people with disabilities (such as family members) cannot be discriminated against because of that association.

facts

An employee alleged that her employer fired her to avoid having to continue to pay for the substantial medical costs that were being incurred by her husband’s cancer treatments under the employer’s self-insured health insurance plan. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer.

Ruling

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, finding that because the plaintiff established that “association discrimination” may have motivated the employer in its decision to fire her, a jury should be allowed to consider her claim. Specifically, the court relied on the fact that the employer indicated it was reviewing the unusually high costs of her husband’s medical expenses at the same time the employer was identifying ways to cut health care costs. Also, the employer asked the plaintiff if her husband had considered hospice care instead of the more expensive radiation and chemotherapy treatments her husband was receiving.

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Thomas v. Kohl’s Corp.

Citation

2018 WL 704691 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 5, 2018)

Why this case is important

Under the ADA, retail stores must remove barriers for people with mobility disabilities if the barrier removal is readily achievable. This allows people with disabilities to shop independently.

facts

Plaintiff Patricia Thomas lives with the progressive effects of Multiple Sclerosis that limits her ability to walk and stand. She uses a walker or a scooter. She brought an ADA lawsuit against Kohl’s alleging she could not access certain merchandise independently due to a narrow path caused by obstruction from a moveable display.

Ruling

The district court found for Thomas and denied Kohl’s motion for summary judgment. Kohl’s had argued that the ADA did not apply because there are no express spacing requirements for moveable display racks. However, the court found that the spacing of moveable display racks is governed by the “readily achievable” standard of the ADA. The court noted evidence that those changes would be readily achievable; additional inches around displays would not result in a significant loss of selling or serving space, and enhancing employee training would have minimal impact on overall operations and resources of the store. The court also rejected Kohl’s “customer service defense” as an alternative.

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Karraker v. Rent-A-Center

Citation

411 F.3d 831 (7th Cir. 2005)

Why this case is important

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the use of a personality test as a job screening tool violated the ADA because it is an impermissible medical examination.

facts

A group of current and former employees challenged an employer’s policy requiring employees seeking management positions to take the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (“MMPI”). They alleged that the MMPI can identify mental health conditions and therefore violates the ADA. The trial court held that the test did not violate the ADA because it was used for “vocational” purposes to predict future job performance and compatibility.

Ruling

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed. The court held that the MMPI is designed to diagnose mental illness, and thus, is a medical examination subject to the ADA’s restrictions on medical exams and inquiries. The court further explained that the test tended to screen out people with mental illness, and it was irrelevant that the test was graded on a vocational scale, as opposed to a medical scale. The court also held that to have standing to challenge a medical examination a plaintiff is not required to be a person with a disability.

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Gogos v. AMS Mechanical Systems

Citation

737 F.3d 1170 (7th Cir. 2013)

Why this case is important

This is one of the first appellate court cases in the country interpreting the definition of disability after passage of the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA).

facts

The plaintiff, an individual with high blood pressure, was terminated from his position. He filed suit under the ADA. The employer argued his case should be dismissed because he didn’t have a disability under the ADA. The district court granted summary judgment for the employer.

Ruling

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed. Specifically, the Seventh Circuit held: 1) Even if the plaintiff’s blood pressure spike and vision loss were episodic, the ADAAA made clear that episodic conditions are covered by the ADA; 2) Short-term disabilities can be covered by the ADA; 3)The plaintiff’s blood pressure spike and intermittent blindness could substantially limit two of his major bodily functions: eyesight and circulatory function; and 4) Courts must disregard the positive effects of medication and other mitigating measures when determining whether an individual has a disability under the ADA.

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Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago v. Chicago Transit Authority

Citation

2001 WL 492473 (N.D. Ill. May 9, 2001)

Why this case is important

The ruling allowed major ADA case against the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to proceed leading to systematic improvements to the CTA’s buses and trains for riders with disabilities.

facts

ADA lawsuit brought on behalf of nine individuals with disabilities (seven with mobility disabilities, one who is blind, and one who is deaf) and on behalf of Access Living, the Center for Independent Living in Chicago, for CTA’s failure to ensure that features on CTA buses and trains that were designated as accessible, were in fact accessible. The CTA filed a motion for summary judgment claiming it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Ruling

The Judge denied CTA’s motion finding that the plaintiffs had presented more than sufficient evidence to rebut each of defendant’s arguments. Specifically, the court found that 1) Access Living was a proper organizational plaintiff; 2) the ADA statute of limitations was two years; 3) plaintiffs provided sufficient evidence that the CTA was deliberately indifferent to the ADA rights of riders with disabilities; and 4) plaintiffs have provided sufficient evidence that they are entitled to affirmative injunctive relief. Shortly after the court’s ruling a comprehensive settlement was reached. (See below for the link to the settlement agreement.)

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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. AIC Security Investigations, Ltd.

Citation

55 F3d 1276 (7th Cir. 1995)

Why this case is important

This is the first ADA case that went to trial and jury’s award of damages upheld by appellate court.

facts

Employee with terminal cancer sued his Chicago-based employer claiming that he was terminated because of his cancer. Following the first ADA trial in the country, the jury found in favor of the EEOC and the discharged employee, and awarded him $572,000 in compensatory damages, back pay and punitive damages. The employer appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ruling

The Seventh Circuit affirmed the jury’s finding for the discharged employee. The court also held that the jury’s award of compensatory and punitive damages was not grossly excessive.

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Last updated: July 1, 2020

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