A federal appeals court on Wednesday overturned a lower court’s ruling and reinstated a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against an ATM installation and service company that fired a worker who suffered a stroke.
In February 2019, Barney Galloway, one of two field service technicians in charge of the Houston region for Green Bay, Wis.-based Cash Depot Inc., informed the company that he had a stroke while on leave, according to the ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Cash Depot Ltd.
On March 4, Mr. Galloway said he was getting better but still could not return to work, and two days later he said he had a follow-up doctor̵7;s appointment on April 2 to be evaluated to determine if he could resume his job.
The company immediately posted a vacancy for his job and offered his position on April 2 to someone else. The same day, Mr. Galloway told the company he could return to work with a 25-pound weight restriction, which would allow him to do most of his work, and his doctor confirmed this in an April 3 letter. Mr. Galloway was fired the same day.
The EEOC filed suit in US District Court in Houston against CD, alleging that it had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by firing Mr. Galloway and not reasonably accommodate him.
The district court granted CD summary judgment dismissing the case, finding that Mr. Galloway was unable to perform the essential functions of his job, that no reasonable accommodations were possible, and that it need not infer bad faith from the company’s decision to immediately hire a replacement.
The decision was overturned by a unanimous three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal.
The document does not establish “that no jury could find discrimination,” the decision said. “Furthermore, the trial court failed to construe the facts and evidence in the light most favorable to the EEOC, as required.”
“The trial court here not only considered CD’s ruling but also gave it deference despite conflicting evidence,” it said, reversing the lower court and remanding the case.
Attorneys in the case had no comment or did not respond to a request for comment.
Earlier this month, a federal appeals court overturned a lower court ruling that the New York City Transit Authority discriminated against an employee who suffered from tendinitis and failed to reasonably accommodate his disability.