5th Circuit - ADA Title I Claim Requires Employment Relationship
by Michael Fox
Although it seems this would be fairly self-evident, apparently there is not yet a substantial amount of case law dealing with whether or not an employment relationship is required in order to bring an ADA claim under Title I. Faced with a claim arising from the rather specialized training programs for those interested in careers working on today's automobiles, the 5th Circuit holds that admission to a school that trains individuals to work on Mercedes, even though funded by Mercedes, does not establish the requisite employment relationship to sue either Mercedes or the school under Title I. Brennan v. Mercedes Benz USA (5th Cir. 10/5/04) [pdf].
The 5th Circuit also affirms the summary judgment throwing out his intentional infliction claim. Although on first blush it appears this might have been a case where the Court would have cited the Texas Supreme Court's recent Hoffman-LaRoche v. Zeltwanger decision, see my previous post, it did not. However, given the primary holding, that the alleged misconduct was not covered by the statute under which Brennan sued, the reason that it was not cited is obvious. Zeltwanger would not be applicable as it undercuts the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim only where other legal protection is available. Since in this case there was no other legal claim because of the lack of the employment relationship, there was no legal barrier to plaintiff bringing the IIED claim, just a failure on his part to produce any evidence to support it.