Plaintiff Sufficiently Alleges Employment Discrimination Based on Disability (Broken Wrist)

In the case of Vale v. Great Neck Water Pollution Control District, decided January 20, 2015, the Eastern District of New York held that the plaintiff sufficiently alleged various claims – including discrimination, failure to accommodate, and retaliation – under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Plaintiff alleged that she was subjected to unfair treatment in connection with her disability (a broken wrist).

Points of note:

  • Assigning plaintiff labor-intensive tasks outside her job duties and “sabotaging” her by passing off her “drafts” as her final work product qualified as “adverse employment actions”;
  • Plaintiff’s wrist injury was arguably not “temporary”, and hence could be a “disability” within the meaning of the ADA, where plaintiff alleged that she was required to wear a brace on her wrist for approximately one year;
  • Plaintiff sufficiently alleged the requisite causal connection between her “disability” and certain “adverse employment actions” to survive dismissal, namely, by alleging that “just days after returning to work following the injury, the Defendant modified her job responsibilities, requiring her to perform certain labor intensive tasks outside the scope of her job classification”;
  • Plaintiff sufficiently alleged a claim for failing to reasonably accommodate her disability, by asserting that defendant refused to permit her to arrive at work later and that she could perform the essential functions of her secretarial position with an accommodation in start time; and
  • Plaintiff sufficiently alleged retaliation under the ADA by, for example, asserting that defendant modified her job responsibilities close in time to her request for a reasonable accommodation.
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