The Third Circuit affirmed an order of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, granting a summary judgment motion for CVS, the defendant in a disability discrimination case brought by the plaintiff, Nicole Moore. Nicole Moore v. CVS RX Services, Inc., No. 15-3836, (3d Cir. Sept. 8, 2016)
Moore was employed by CVS while pregnant. Unfortunately, she developed complications during her pregnancy that made it so she was not able to lift over her head or climb. CVS was unable to give her a job with these limitations, so the company allowed her to go on short-term disability. Moore returned to work after her child was born, but developed post-pregnancy complications. CVS’s Leave of Absence department approved a leave for a small period of time that was later extended to end up being a few months in total. When Moore sought to extend her leave even further, the Leave of Absence department asked her to provide proof or certification from a doctor that she was unable to work.
However, when Moore went to get the certification, her nurse practitioner cleared her for work, saying she could “fully perform her job and that she needed only intermittent leave for follow-up doctor appointments.” The department then rejected her continuous leave. When Moore did not show up for work after her extension was over, she was terminated. Moore filed a complaint for failure to accommodate her disability and disparate treatment.
The Third Circuit stated that to establish a case for failure to accommodate, the plaintiff has to show under the Americans with Disabilities Act that, “(1) plaintiff was disabled within meaning of statute; (2) plaintiff was a ‘qualified individual’; and (3) the employer knew plaintiff needed reasonable accommodation and failed to provide it”. The Court stated there was no genuine issue of material fact as to the second and third elements. The reasoning for this is that a qualified individual is one “who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds or desires.” Because Moore was unable to lift over or head or climb, she could not perform the basic functions of her job with accommodations, and therefore was not a qualified individual under the statute. Furthermore, CVS provided reasonable accommodation by giving her leave for 6 months; therefore, the third element was not met. The reasoning was similar for the dismissal of the disparate treatment claim, in that Moore needed to prove she was qualified for her job, and that she could perform the essential tasks of her job with accommodation, and she did not.