Last month the Fifth Circuit resolved an intra-Circuit split on the appropriate prima face case that should be used in a discrimination case under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In EEOC v. LHC Group, Inc., the EEOC brought suit on behalf of a home health field nurse who was terminated after she was rendered unable to drive after she suffered an epileptic seizure.
Of significance in the LHC Group opinion is the prima facie case the Court articulated that applies to a case of disability discrimination under the ADA. The panel held that the ADA prima facie case requires the plaintiff to show that: 1) she has a disability; 2) she is qualified for the job; 3) that she was subject to an adverse employment decision on account of her disability. The opinion eliminated a fourth requirement found in some cases that required a showing that the plaintiff was replaced by someone outside the protected category or treated less favorably than non-disabled employees.
The court of appeal affirmed the trial court’s summary judgment as to the nurses inability to perform essential job function of the field nurse position (which clearly required the ability to drive) but reversed the summary judgment on issues related to whether the nurse could have performed the essential job functions of a Team Leader position which allowed employee travel commitments to be accomplished by car or public transportation.
You can read the entire opinion in EEOC v. LHC Group here.