12-22-11; Important ADA ruling of note—truck driver who could drive long-haul but not city work not entitled to accommodation under federal law

This ruling cuts in lots of directions but is clearly one all of our readers should be aware of.

In Powers v. USF Holland, Inc., No. 10-2363 (December 15, 2011), the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Federal District Court did not err in granting Defendant-employer's motion for summary judgment in Plaintiff's action alleging Defendant USF Holland violated ADA by enforcing its “100% healed policy” when refusing Plaintiff's request

·         To return to work with certain medical restrictions and

·         By failing to provide him with reasonable accommodation of allowing him to return to work as long-haul truck driver that did not require Plaintiff to perform certain loading dock duties.

The ruling indicates Plaintiff was a long-haul driver who asked for short-haul or city driving to adjust for social and family needs. He then claimed he became disabled doing the short-haul/city work and wanted lots of accommodations, as he couldn’t switch back to long-haul due to the provisions in the collective bargaining agreement.

The Seventh Circuit ruled Plaintiff failed to show he was qualified under ADA as individual who was substantially limited in major life activity of working, where record showed Plaintiff was capable of performing long-haul truck driving work. The Federal Appellate Court also noted the record showed at most that he was unable to return to a city-driver position that he held at time of his medical leave of absence.

Probably most important, the Seventh Circuit further held Defendant's “100% healed policy” did not subject defendant to per se liability under the Americans with Disabilities Act where the record below showed Defendant considered Plaintiff's alleged impairment as affecting only Plaintiff's ability to perform Defendant's city-driver position.

We want our readers to know we represent USF Holland but not in the claim outlined above. We appreciate your thoughts and comments.