ADA Failure to Accommodate Claim Survives Dismissal

In Lester v. Mount Pleasant Cottage School Union Free School District, 2020 WL 3618969 (SDNY July 2, 2020) (J. Karas), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s failure-to-accommodate-disability claim asserted under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Applying the law to the facts, the court explained:

Plaintiff alleges that he qualified as disabled in 2005, but continued to successfully perform his job and receive good reviews despite taking time off for medical reasons. Beginning in 2016, Plaintiff was assigned “additional responsibilities” that required him to walk around more and go up and down stairs, which “exacerbated” his condition. Plaintiff, with support from his doctors, requested what he perceived to be a reasonable accommodation—i.e., being assigned to smaller areas to monitor—but Defendant never responded to this request. As a result, Plaintiff experienced more flare-ups than before and was eventually terminated for “excessive absences.” When read with the special solicitude and favorable pleading standards afforded to pro se plaintiffs, the Court concludes that these allegations are sufficient to state a failure to accommodate claim.

Defendant mistakenly focuses on the argument that Plaintiff’s inability to attend work made it impossible to reasonably accommodate his disability. It is true that the law acknowledges that some degree of regular, predictable attendance is fundamental to most jobs. But it is far from obvious whether Plaintiff’s accommodations made his attendance fall below that standard. It is not clear from the face of [plaintiff’s complaint] that the medical leaves Plaintiff required were so pervasive that he could not “get to work” and thereby satisfy the essential requirements of [his] employment. Indeed, Plaintiff alleges that similar requests for time off had been previously accommodated for years, and that he had received favorable employment reviews even with his disability. In any event, this question would be more appropriately addressed at summary judgment, as many of Defendant’s cited cases did. [Citations and internal quotation marks omitted]

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