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A federal appeals court on Wednesday reversed a lower court ruling and reinstated a disability discrimination charge filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against a company that installs and services ATMs that fired a worker who suffered a stroke.
In February 2019, Barney Galloway, one of two field service technicians responsible for the Houston region for Green Bay, Wisconsin-based Cash Depot Inc., informed the company he had a stroke while off duty, 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 was still unable to return to work, and two days later said he had a follow-up doctor’s appointment on April 2 to be evaluated for a determination of whether he could resume his job.
The company immediately posted an opening for his job, and on April 2 offered his position to someone else. The same day, Mr. Galloway told the company he could return to work with a 25-pound restriction, which would enable him to do most of his work, and his doctor confirmed this in an April 3 letter. Mr. Galloway was terminated the same day.
The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court in Houston against CD, alleging it had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by firing Mr. Galloway and not reasonably accommodating him.
The district court granted CD summary judgment dismissing the case, finding Mr. Galloway was unable to perform his job’s essential functions, that no reasonable accommodations were possible, and that it need not infer bad faith from the company’s decision to immediately hired a replacement.
The ruling was overturned by a unanimous three-judge appeals court panel.
The record does not establish “that no jury could find discrimination,” the decision said. “Further, the district court failed to construe the facts and evidence in the light most favorable to the EEOC, as it is required.”
“The district court here not only gave consideration to CD’s judgment but also gave deference to it despite contradictory evidence,” it said, in 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 and ruled that the New York City Transit Authority discriminated against an employee who suffered from tendonitis and failed to reasonably accommodate his disability.