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ADA Suit Affirmed by 7th Circuit in Favor of City Driver

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on July 07, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A man who had worked for the city for the greater part of three decades was vindicated by the Seventh Circuit in a non-accommodation claim. The man had claimed that the city fired him for not having a commercial license -- an item that was impossible for him to acquire because of diabetes he'd developed over the years.

This very interesting ADA-retaliation case mixes employment law and politics. Employers should pay attention to the tone of this court carefully.

Mr. Brown's Long Career

Mr. Jack Brown worked for the city of Anderson, Indiana in its transit system for a number of years. The City of Anderson Transit had employed him in all manner of positions including street supervisor and mechanic. He had been employed through the election of a new city mayor. His fortunes seemed to reflect the ebb and flow of the political landscape at the time.

Brown suffered from diabetes, which eventually caused him to lose his commercial drivers' license. He was fired from the CAT on two theories. One, he was fired for having given support to the then incumbent mayor's opponent and two, the city violated the ADA for failing to accommodate his disability.

Political Retaliation

The lower court dismissed Brown's summary judgment motion on the issue of political retaliation and sent the issue to the jury. They found against him because the facts were just too tenuous.

ADA Claim

However, Brown was victorious against the city on his ADA claim. The city had sought to dodge liability by claiming that Brown's lack of a CDL was crucial to his job. But an examination of the facts indicated that, in the position he was terminated from, he would have never have needed to drive a bus and use his CDL. And even if he did, a replacement driver could be found easily. Therefore, the upper court affirmed and found no abuse of discretion.

Brown's compensatory damages and damages totaled about $90,000.

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