Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Issues Opinion Regarding Disability Discrimination

/ 12/14/2010

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently addressed disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Winborne v. Sunshine Health Care, Inc., No. 09-60765 (5th Cir. Nov. 17, 2010), available at:
The plaintiff worked as a nurse for the defendant, a rest home.  She suffered attacks involving temporary loss of awareness, but she controlled this condition with medication.  The defendant terminated plaintiff’s employment after concluding that she neglected a patient.  The plaintiff sued, alleging that the defendant fired her because it regarded her as disabled.  The plaintiff won a jury trial. The defendant filed this appeal after the district court denied its motion for judgment as a matter of law.

Because the plaintiff’s disability claim alleged her employer regarded her as substantially limited in the major life activity of working, she must show that the defendant regarded her as unable to work in a class of jobs.  Although the plaintiff presented evidence to show that the defendant was concerned about her ability to care for patients, she offered no evidence to show that the defendant perceived her to be unable to work in a class of jobs (such as nursing positions that did not involve patient care).  Therefore, the Court reversed the district court’s denial of the defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law.

The Dallas, Texas employment law firm Clouse Dunn Khoshbin LLP routinely handles disability law issues.  To speak to an employment attorney about workplace discrimination, contact the employment lawyers at [email protected].


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