Temporary Disability Fails ADA Recovery

April 11, 2001 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A worker who was "regarded as" disabled for a period of time - but was not disabled - cannot sue for a violation of rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to a federal judge.

According to the suit, Linda Danyluk-Coyle had worked as a nurse at St. Mary’s Medical Center for more than a decade when she fractured her ankle in August 1999. She reported to work on crutches, but was unable to do her job, according to the Legal Intelligencer.

Disability Denied

She applied for short-term disability benefits, but the hospital denied the claim and refused to allow her to work. Four months later, Danyluk-Coyle returned to work without any restrictions. However, during those four months, she was forced to exhaust her available leave, and was therefore not eligible to resume her former position when she returned.

In the suit, Danyluk-Coyle claims that during the four months of recovery, she met the ADA’s definition of a “qualified individual with a disability.” She also said the hospital discriminated against her by not allowing her to work in a pre-admission testing unit.

But the 3rd Circuit’s Senior U.S. District Judge Charles R. Weiner flatly rejected the claim, noting that “temporary, non-chronic injuries, with little or no long-term impact, such as fractures, simply do not rise to the level of a disability within the definition of the ADA.”

He also cited several courts, including the 8th Circuit, which have held that “non-disabled employees perceived as disabled by their employers are not entitled to reasonable accommodations under the ADA.”

– Nevin Adams              editors@plansponsor.com