- Terminating Married Couple with Sick Child Was Discriminaton under ADA
- June 21, 2008 | Author: Clay M. Ullrick
- Law Firm: Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP - Chicago Office
Two married employees who worked at an energy plant were terminated shortly after their son incurred $62,000 of medical bills over a six-week period while undergoing experimental cancer treatment. The employer was self-insured and the employees were participants in its health insurance plan. The complaint asserted that the employees were fired because the energy plant did not want to pay their son’s significant medical bills rather than for time card fraud, the reason given by the energy company for the terminations. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals “because of the known disability of an individual with whom the qualified individual is known to have a relationship or association.” The employees provided evidence indicating that the employer was concerned about rising health care costs and had been closely tracking the expenses associated with the treatment of their son. Additionally, the employees demonstrated that other employees who committed time sheet violations were punished with days without pay, rather than with termination. The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that such evidence created a reasonable inference that the employer’s reason for terminating the couple was false. Employers should be aware that ADA extends beyond an employee’s own disability and prohibits discrimination due to his or her association with a disabled person.
Trujillo v. PacifiCorp, No. 06-8074, (10th Cir., May 7, 2008)