ADA Retaliation Claim Survives Dismissal Against Delta Airlines

In Adams v. Delta Airlines, Inc., 16-cv-1986, 2018 WL 1532434 (E.D.N.Y. March 29,  2018), the court (inter alia) concluded that plaintiff’s amended complaint sufficiently alleged a “materially adverse employment action” and that plaintiff stated a retaliation claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

From the Opinion:

Here, the amended complaint alleges that, on June 20, 2014, plaintiff “requested . . . to be able to sit-down to get off her knee, and presented [her] work restrictions[ ] that had previously been provided to Delta supervisors.” (Am. Compl. p. 13 ¶ 16; see also Am. Compl. p. 10 ¶ 21 (alleging that plaintiff presented medical documentation to supervisor on June 20, 2014).) The complaint therefore alleges that on June 20, 2014, plaintiff engaged in protected activity by requesting an allegedly reasonable accommodation. …

Further, read liberally and drawing all inferences in favor of the plaintiff, the amended complaint alleges that upon requesting a reasonable accommodation on June 20, 2014, plaintiff was directed to leave her place of employment and kept away for two months before placing her on leave, which, as discussed above, plaintiff contends was not reasonable. Specifically, the complaint alleges that upon seeking an accommodation on June 20, 2014, plaintiff was “sent home from work, with no return date” and was “informed [that] she would be required to call-in-sick for the days she missed.”9 (Am. Compl. p. 13 ¶ 16.) Two months later, following a meeting between plaintiff and Delta to discuss reasonable accommodations on August 21, 2014, Delta placed plaintiff on “short-term disability leave, which was converted to a medical leave effective September . . . 2014.” (Id. p. 13 ¶ 17-p. 14 ¶ 18.)

Therefore, the amended complaint alleges more than a mere denial of a request for an accommodation. Instead, read liberally and assuming the truth of the factual allegations contained therein, the amended complaint alleges that, upon plaintiff’s request for an accommodation, Delta summarily and unreasonably directed plaintiff to leave her place of employment and kept her away for two months before formally placing her on leave. Additionally, as noted above, based on the assumed truth of the allegations of the amended complaint, the court cannot conclude, at the motion to dismiss stage, that placing plaintiff on medical leave was a reasonable accommodation.

The court finds that plaintiff has sufficiently alleged that her request for an accommodation was met with more than a mere denial; it was met with an employment action that would dissuade a reasonable employee from requesting an accommodation.

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