Appeals Court Upholds Ruling for Hospital in ADA Case Over Call Center Supervisor with MS

The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has upheld a summary judgment ruling in favor of a hospital that was sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and state law in Missouri for not accommodating a supervisor in the customer service department who trained and managed agents who assisted patients over the phone when the supervisor was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and sought to be able to work from home when his condition flared up.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Mobley v. St. Luke’s Health System can be accessed by clicking here.

While most of the agents supervised by the plaintiff telecommuted, some were required to work in the office because of poor job performance. After the plaintiff was diagnosed, he asked his manager if he could work from home when his conditioned flared up. Supervisors were already allowed to work from home two days a week. The manager said she would consider it on a case-by-case basis. A month later, the manager denied a request from the plaintiff to work from home because she said it would be unfair to the other supervisor. The manager recommended using paid time off and the Family Medical Leave Act when needed. A year later, the plaintiff asked again for permission to telecommute and again the request was denied. Because flare-ups were unpredictable and the manager needed to supervise her direct reports were the reasons for the denial. Thinking he was going to get fired, the plaintiff voluntarily resigned and then sued his employer.

A District Court judge granted summary judgment for the defendant on the grounds that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate he could perform his essential job functions either with or without a reasonable accommodation and because he did not demonstrate that the defendant failed to engage in the process in good faith regarding the requested accommodations.

In fact, when first approached, the defendant agreed to consider the requests to work from home on a case-by-case basis, the Appeals Court noted. Ultimately, only one request made by the plaintiff to work from home was ever denied by the defendant, so there was no “triable issue as to whether [the defendant] acted in good faith,” the Appeals Court wrote.

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