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Disability bias claim dismissed, retaliation claim reinstated


A federal appeals court on Thursday affirmed dismissal of a disability discrimination claim against a security company, but reinstated a retaliation claim.

Othman Ibela charged that his Conshohocken, Pennsylvania-based Allied Universal reduced his hours and days of work, among other actions, after he informed his supervisor he had bipolar disorder, according to court papers in Othman Ibela v. Allied Universal.

The U.S. District Court in New York dismissed both his claims charging discrimination and retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In affirming dismissal of the discrimination claim, a three-judge appeals court panel said Mr. Ibela “did not sufficiently allege that he suffered from a disability within the meaning of the ADA.”

“A diagnosis alone is insufficient to establish disability under the statute…Because Ibela did not allege any facts showing that his bipolar disorder impacted, let alone substantially limited, a major life activity, he failed to state a claim for disability discrimination,” the four-page ruling said.

In reinstating the retaliation claim, the ruling said Mr. Ibela alleged that within two months after making a reasonable accommodation request, his supervisor “began denying him work, reducing his hours, and denying him overtime after he requested a reasonable accommodation due to his bipolar disorder.” 

His amended complaint and opposition brief “plausibly alleged a reasonable belief on his part that he was engaging in protected conduct and satisfy the elements of an ADA retaliation claim,” the panel said, in reinstating the claim and remanding the case for further proceedings.

Allied Universal’s attorneys did not respond to a request for comment. The court did not provide the name of an attorney for Mr. Ibela.