Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

7th Cir. - Calling Employee "Crippled, Disabled and Handicapped" Not Enough To Violate ADA

An employee was hired as a flat bed truck driver, even though he had a severely crushed hand which led to a 20% disability pension from the Army. When he was terminated for violating a safety rule, he claimed that the employer called him "crippled, disabled and handicapped." He sued under the ADA, not claiming he was actually disabled, only that the employer considered him disabled. Accepting for purposes of the ruling that the employer used those words, the Court still found no violation of the ADA. They all fall within "a range of meanings" and are not sufficient to show that the employer thought the employee was so far disabled as to meet the ADA statutory definition. It is that level required to meet the "perceived as disabled" standard. Tockes v. Air-Land Transport Services, Inc.. (7th Cir. 9/9/03) [pdf]. Chief Judge Posner commented that rather than being made in a case where an employee had been hired with an existing disability as here, a perceived disability claim would be more likely where an employee suffered an injury which the employer viewed as disabling when it was not.


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