Temporary Impairments May Be Covered Under ADA

This past week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held in Summers v. Altarum Institute that a temporary impairment caused by an injury may be a covered disability under the 2008 Amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADAAA”) if the impairment is sufficiently severe to substantially limit a major life activity.  This ruling is a marked departure from previous case law which said that temporary conditions, even those lasting up to a year, did not fall within the purview of the ADA. Continue reading


Sixth Circuit Affirms District Court’s Grant of Summary Judgment For Employer On Plaintiff’s Claim of Associational Discrimination Under ADA; Dispute Regarding Due Date For Plaintiff’s Return to Work From Family Medical Leave Was Immaterial As Plaintiff Admitted She Would Not Have Returned To Work On Date She Asserted She Was Due Back

The Sixth Circuit recently affirmed that a plaintiff’s failure to return to work from a family medical leave on the due date established by her employer justified summary judgment in favor of the employer on the employee’s claim of associational discrimination under the ADA.  The plaintiff’s dispute as to her return date was immaterial, and did not prevent summary judgment for the employer, because plaintiff admitted in deposition that she would not have returned by the date she asserted she was due back at work.  Bimberg v. Elkton-Pigeon- Bay Port Laker Schools, 6th Cir. No. 12-1311, 2013 WL 174289 (Jan. 17, 2013).

Plaintiff Bimberg was a school bus driver who took a family medical leave to care for her terminally ill husband.  Bimberg’s employer initially granted her the FMLA-mandated 12 weeks of unpaid leave.  Therafter, Bimberg’s union representative was able to secure for her leave from the beginning of the approaching new school semester, January 5, 2009, until the end of the school year in early June 2009.  However, Bimberg later determined that she needed to leave before the start of the new semester, and that she would be away for more than 12 weeks.  Ultimately, her employer granted her unpaid leave of one year, from December 18, 2008, through December 18, 2009.

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The Sixth Circuit Reverses a District Court’s Summary Judgment that a Deaf Person is not “Otherwise Qualified” to Perform the “Essential Functions” of a Lifeguard

The Sixth Circuit recently decided an interesting case involving the Americans With Disabilities Act — a rare case in which an employer’s hiring decision literally could have life and death consequences.  In Keith v. County of Oakland, 6th Cir. No. 11-2276, 2013 WL 115647 (Jan. 10, 2013), the plaintiff, a deaf person, filed an action alleging that Oakland County, Michigan discriminated against him on the basis of disability in violation of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 when it refused to hire him as a lifeguard for its wave pool.

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