Court Dismisses Failure-to-Hire ADA Disability Discrimination Claim, Citing Defendant’s Lack of Knowledge of Disability

In a recent case, Scalercio-Isenberg v. Morgan Stanley Services Group Inc., 2020 WL 4547317 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 6, 2020), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s disability discrimination claim asserted under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The court summarized the law, in pertinent part, as follows:

ADA disability discrimination claims are also subject to the McDonnell Douglas framework. … To establish a prima facie claim of disability discrimination for failure to hire under the ADA, a plaintiff must demonstrate: (1) the employer is subject to the ADA; (2) the plaintiff is disabled within the meaning of the ADA or perceived to be so by her employer; (3) she was otherwise qualified to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation; (4) she suffered an adverse employment action; and (5) the adverse action was imposed because of her disability.

Applying the law, the court held that plaintiff did not sufficiently allege a disability discrimination claim, “because she did not allege facts showing that Defendants knew of her disability when they made the decision not to hire her.”

Additionally, while plaintiff argued that defendant “uses the voluntary answers it receives from its online job application portal relating to whether an applicant has a disability to ‘screen out people[ ] they don’t want to interview'”, plaintiff “does not allege that she gave an answer to the question relating to an applicant’s potential disability.”

Therefore, the court concluded that “it cannot be said that Morgan Stanley’s decision not to hire her was imposed because of her disability … because the allegations establish that Defendants did not know she was disabled when they decided not to hire her,” and plaintiff “alleges no facts supporting her allegation of Morgan Stanley’s improper use of the voluntary disability question answers.”

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