Disability Discrimination Claim Dismissed; Plaintiff Posed a “Direct Threat”

In Guess v. University of Rochester, 2015 WL 489137 (WDNY Aug. 17, 2015), the court dismissed plaintiff’s disability discrimination complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Plaintiff worked as a radiologist, and suffered from a disability (a brain aneurism). She alleges that the defendant discriminated against her by failing to provide her reasonable accommodations and ultimately terminating her employment.

In dismissing her ADA claim, the court applied the “direct threat” principle, explaining:

Initially, the Court notes that in order to establish a prima facie case, a disabled individual must show that she was “otherwise qualified” to perform the essential functions of the position. Where an individual poses a “direct threat” to the health or safety of others which cannot be eliminated even with reasonable accommodation, that individual is not otherwise qualified. See Adams v. Rochester Gen. Hosp., 977 F.Supp. 226, 233 (W.D.N.Y.1997) (citing 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(r) (defining “direct threat” as a “significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the individual or others”)). Here, plaintiff’s essential job functions included properly setting up equipment, positioning patients, and determining proper x-ray exposure in order to obtain a high quality radiograph. Failure to satisfactorily perform these functions could, and in plaintiff’s case, did, put patients in danger. Under these circumstances, plaintiff posed a direct threat to the safety of others and therefore was not “otherwise qualified” under the ADA.


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