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Court dismisses plaintiff's Americans with Disabilities Act claim, holding that his sleep apnea failed to qualify as an impairment under the Act.

April 1, 2010
Keyes v. Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5227 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 20, 2010)

In Keyes, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against his former employer, alleging that they terminated his employment in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that he was provided with a verbal warning and suspended for his tardiness but advised his supervisor that he believed he had sleep apnea. Several months later and after a verbal altercation with a co-worker, the plaintiff admitted that his heart was no longer in the job and, as a result, the defendant severed their employment relationship. Following the plaintiff's termination, he underwent a sleep study, which confirmed his sleep apnea, and was provided with a CPAP machine which cured his sleep apnea. In rejecting the plaintiff's disability discrimination claim, the court held—as a matter of law—that the plaintiff was not a "qualified employee with a disability." Specifically, the court determined that the plaintiff was not substantially limited in any major life activity. In fact, the court expressly rejected the plaintiff's claims that he was substantially limited in the Activities of breathing and sleeping. In so holding, the court reasoned that the sleep study—taken after his termination—did not confirm that he was limited in breathing or sleeping. The court further reasoned, in reliance on the Supreme Court's ruling in Sutton v. United Air Lines, Inc., that the CPAP machine completely cured his sleep apnea and such a cure mandates that the plaintiff did not presently have an impairment that substantially limited a major life activity. While the court did reason that the CPAP machine's cure of the plaintiff's sleep apnea was dispositive of the plaintiff's ADA claims, the court did note that its reliance on Sutton could not be utilized for adverse employment actions that occurred in 2009, in light of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.

Case Law Alert - 2nd Qtr 2010

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Lee C. Durivage
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(215) 575-2584
lcdurivage@mdwcg.com

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