Appeals Court Upholds Disability Benefits Case Dismissal

June 27, 2002 ( - A health care company that fired one of its nurses for being chronically tardy didn't let the employee go so she wouldn't be able to collect short-term disability benefits, a federal appeals court decided.

The US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Sheryl Alderdice had not presented enough evidence that American Health Holding Inc. purposefully fired Alderdice just so she wouldn’t have access to disability coverage.

According to court papers, Alderdice took medical leave so she could undergo a mastectomy and get radiation treatment after being diagnosed with breast cancer in December 1996. She took more leave the following year to undergo a hysterectomy.

In August 1998, Alderdice told her American Health supervisor that she needed another medical leave to have sinus surgery. That’s when she was fired, according to the documents.

Alderdice lost the first legal battle after taking the issue to federal court when a federal judge in the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio threw out the case before trial at American Health’s request.
The appeals court judges agreed with that lower court decision in the latest ruling.

The case is decision Alderdice v. American Health Holding Inc., 6th Cir., No. 00-4501, unpublished 6/14/02.