Excerpted from the April 29, 2020 issue of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly
When a Wayfair Maine employee learned that she was going to be terminated due to misconduct, she attributed her behavior to post-traumatic stress disorder – an issue that she had never before brought to her employer’s attention. She also claimed that the outbursts that resulted in her termination were caused by her coworkers’ mistreatment.
When she learned about Wayfair's plans to terminate her, the plaintiff had asked either to be moved or to telecommute, but Wayfair denied her request and terminated her the next day. The plaintiff argued that Wayfair violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to accommodate her PTSD. But the 1st Circuit disagreed, affirming a U.S. District Court judge’s summary judgment for Wayfair.
In the court’s decision, Senior Judge Bruce M. Selva wrote that the plaintiff had made both accommodation proposals after committing the fireable misconduct that prompted her discharge. He went on to note that when a request for accommodation comes after the fireable misconduct has occured, it generally should not be viewed as an accommodation proposal at all.
The 1st Circuit also rejected the plaintiff’s claim that Wayfair punished her more severely than non-disabled employees, finding that the evidence she provided did not resemble her own situation.
The complete article can be found in the April 29, 2020 issue of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.
Katharine I. Rand is a partner in Pierce Atwood’s Employment Practice Group. Katy focuses her practice on discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wage / hour issues. She also has an active litigation practice, routinely advocating on behalf of employers in state and federal court as well as before administrative agencies such as the Maine Human Rights Commission and Department of Labor.
Daniel R. Strader is an associate in Pierce Atwood’s Employment Practice Group. He focuses his practice in the area of employment law litigation and counseling. Dan represents employers in a wide variety of employment matters, including wage and hour litigation, discrimination claims, contract disputes, and enforcement of restrictive covenants.