Disability Discrimination Roadmap

In¬†Graham v. Macy’s, Inc., SDNY 14-cv-3192 (March 23, 2015), Southern District Judge Paul Engelmayer granted defendant Macys’ motion to dismiss the pro se plaintiff’s claims of discrimination based on disability (here, arthritis and bipolar disorder) under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Although Judge Engelmayer determined that plaintiff’s complaint was deficient – citing, for example, her failure to state “when, if ever, [plaintiff] notified Macy’s of her disability”, her failure to specify when the alleged adverse employment actions occurred, and her “conclusory” allegation of harassment – he permitted her an opportunity to amend it.

This portion of the opinion is instructive, in that it can be interpreted as a “roadmap” of what a complaint must contain in order to withstand a motion to dismiss.

Specifically:

If an Amended Complaint alleged, with sufficient detail, that Graham informed Macy’s of her arthritis, and requested limited hours or other accommodations to help her return to work, and Macy’s refused to provide such accommodations, that complaint could state a claim for failure to accommodate.

… To revive Graham’s failure to accommodate claim, the Amended Complaint must allege, as specifically as possible, when Graham informed Macy’s of her arthritis and/or bipolar disorder, what accommodations she requested, and how Macy’s responded to those requests. As to Graham’s discriminatory treatment and retaliation claims, the Amended Complaint must allege, in as much detail as possible, how Macy’s harassed or¬†otherwise mistreated Graham, and why Graham believes that those actions were related to her disability or the filing of her EEOC charge.

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