Disability Discrimination Claim Survives Summary Judgment Against Village Care Max

In Sivio v. Village Care Max, 18-cv-2408, 2020 WL 497513 (S.D.N.Y. January 31, 2020), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s disability discrimination claim.

Initially, the court found that a reasonable jury could find that defendant improperly failed to accommodate plaintiff’s disability.

It next turned to plaintiff’s disability discrimination claim, evaluating – for purposes of a prima facie case – whether (1) plaintiff was “otherwise qualified to perform the essential functions” of her job, and (2) plaintiff was “terminated because of her disability.”

Applying the law, the court explained:

The analysis of the final discrimination claim element — whether Sivio was terminated because of her disability — is similarly straightforward. VCM explicitly stated in its email terminating Sivio that she was being fired “because she could no longer perform the essential functions of her job.” Def. Reply to Pl. 56.1 Statement ¶ 83. Thus, because Sivio’s disability was the reason VCM thought Sivio could no longer perform the essential functions of her job, a reasonable jury could conclude Sivio was terminated because of her disability. See Parker v. Columbia Pictures Indus., 204 F.3d 326, 338 (2d Cir. 2000) (“Terminating a disabled employee … who can perform the essential functions of the job but cannot return to work because the employer has denied his request for reasonable accommodation, is disability discrimination under the ADA.”); Borkowski v. Valley Cent. Sch. Dist., 63 F.3d 131, 143 (2d Cir. 1995) (“Failure to consider the possibility of reasonable accommodation for … disabilities, if it leads to discharge for performance inadequacies resulting from the disabilities, amounts to a discharge solely because of the disabilities.”); accord Grizzell v. Cyber City Teleservices Mktg., Inc., 2010 WL 2622933, at *7 (M.D. Tenn. June 25, 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted) (plaintiff “suffered discrimination” where defendant “refused to make a reasonable accommodation to enable Plaintiff to receive treatment for post traumatic stress disorder, and instead terminated [him].”).

Having determined that plaintitf established a prima facie case of discrimination, the burden shifted to defendant to “establish a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the termination.” Defendant failed to do so, held the court, given that it “explicitly stated in their correspondence terminating Sivio that she was being terminated because her disability prevented her from performing the essential functions of her job.”

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