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Liberty Mutual prevails in claims adjuster’s age discrimination suit

Posted On: Aug. 18, 2017 2:13 PM CST

A federal appeals court has upheld dismissal of age and disability discrimination and retaliation claims filed by a former Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. claims adjuster.

Reinhard Dreschel was a claim adjuster at a predecessor company to Boston-based Liberty Mutual in Richardson, Texas, in 1990 and continued after Liberty acquired the company until he left in 2012, according to Thursday’s ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans in Reinhard Dreschel v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.

During his time at the company, Mr. Dreschel took multiple medical leaves, including leave in 2012 for depression, anxiety and high blood pressure, according to the ruling.

After the last period of medical leave, Liberty Mutual’s third-party administrator determined he was ineligible for short-term disability benefits and denied his claim. Mr. Dreschel, who was 60 years old at the time, resigned his position soon after, according to the ruling,

He then filed suit in U.S. District Court in Dallas on charges of age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and state law; disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and state law; and retaliation in violation of the Family Medical Leave Act.

The District Court granted Liberty’s motion for summary judgment, which was unanimously upheld by a three-judge appeals court panel.

Mr. Dreschel contended he was paid less than his younger colleague, was not promoted because of his age, and that Liberty Mutual made his working conditions “so intolerable as to constitute a constructive discharge,” said the ruling.

“Because Dreschel cannot establish any dispute of material fact as to whether Liberty took any adverse employment action against him, his age discrimination claims fail as a matter of law,” said the ruling.

On his disability claims, the ruling says the District Court “concluded that Dreschel could not establish that Liberty regarded him as disabled because Dreschel never informed any employee at Liberty that he had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression.” He “has not established any basis for the contention that he was, in fact, constructively discharged,” the ruling said.

His FMLA claim also fails because “he has not established a prima facie showing of an adverse employment action,” said the panel, in affirming the lower court ruling granting Liberty Mutual summary judgment dismissing the case.