Eighth Circuit Denies Serial-Requesting Plaintiff’s ADA Claim

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We are all common with the phrase “No excellent deed goes unpunished.” That evidently is the theme of an Eighth Circuit opinion reviewing an employee’s suit alleging that she was improperly denied an accommodation under the ADA. In Leah M. Powley v. Rail Crew Convey, the plaintiff had requested accommodations for a disability 8 diverse periods inside of a a few-calendar year period and her employer experienced granted all of them. Nonetheless, when she later still left function abruptly soon after asserting that conditions affected her incapacity, her employer handled it as a resignation.

Driver Laments

Leah Powley was a driver for Railcrew Convey, LLC, which transported railroad crews to many railyards. Seven months following she began, Powley commenced asking for lodging (e.g., excuses from get the job done, modifications in her timetable) due to the fact of her again agony and head aches. Over a period of almost 3 many years, she questioned for eight distinctive lodging, each and every time distributing a doctor’s observe identifying prospective disabilities such as back soreness and head aches and a doctor’s restriction. Each time, Railcrew Convey granted the asked for accommodation. During this interval, Railcrew Express promoted her to portion-time dispatcher.

The White Board That Broke the Camel’s Back again

In the dispatcher office environment, a dry-erase board was added that evidently upset Powley. She asked the other dispatchers to rearrange the place and when they instructed her to talk to a remarkable, she declared “I’m accomplished. I have to depart.” The future day she emailed her employer stating that place of work sounds interfered with her means to do her position, and she asked to return as a driver. The e-mail did not mention back again discomfort or problems. Railcrew Express dealt with it as a resignation.

Did She Request for an Lodging?

Powley sued Railcrew Specific for failing to accommodate her disabilities and retaliating in opposition to her for requesting an lodging. Railcrew Categorical moved for summary judgment and the Court granted that motion, dismissing her claims.  She appealed the ruling to the Eighth Circuit.. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the dismissal. In its opinion, the court docket famous that Powley sought and acquired a lot of acceptable accommodations for her back agony. Specifically, the court docket mentioned that each individual of these requests were accompanied by a doctor’s take note or an indication that the ask for was owing to back again ache. However, her final request neither connected a doctor’s notice, nor linked her request with the identified back agony problem. As these types of, she did not present that her ask for was dependent on her alleged disability. The court docket said “where there is no conceivable request for an lodging, there is no failure to accommodate.”

Do We Have to Accommodate Eight Requests in a Row?

As we attorneys like to say, it depends. Undoubtedly, Railcrew Express’s patience with her prior requests helped its scenario right before the Eighth Circuit. However, it is significant to try to remember that each a single of individuals requests was treated as a independent make a difference and was accompanied with a notice from a health care service provider connecting the ask for to a disabling ailment. The employer regarded every ask for and was equipped to give an lodging. That sort of keep track of record is helpful in an ADA accommodation scenario. This feeling demonstrates the importance of making absolutely sure that there is enough medical evidence of a incapacity to result in the interactive process… and that tolerance is indeed a legal virtue.

© 2022 Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP
Countrywide Legislation Overview, Quantity XII, Range 56

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