TPG Wins Appellate Ruling That Expands Rights of Disabled Employees

Dan Petrov of Thorman Petrov Group successfully obtained a reversal of a lower court’s ruling at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of his client, Heidi Hostettler. Ms. Hostettler brought claims of disability discrimination and retaliation under the Family Medical Leave Act after the College of Wooster terminated her employment in 2014. The Sixth Circuit ruled that the lower court’s dismissal of Ms. Hostettler’s claims was legally incorrect. The case will now be set for trial.

Ms. Hostettler was employed as a Human Resources Generalist with the College of Wooster. She became pregnant and gave birth to her daughter in 2014. At the time of her return to work, Ms. Hostettler experienced postpartum depression, and required a reduced work schedule to accommodate her disabling medical condition for a temporary period. The College accommodated Ms. Hostettler for a period of weeks, but then terminated her, claiming that she was unable to perform the essential job function of a full-time work schedule.

The Sixth Circuit ruled that an employer may not unilaterally claim that a full-time schedule is an essential function without evidence connecting full-time work and the specific job tasks. Because Ms. Hostettler required the adjusted schedule for a limited period of time, and because there was substantial evidence that Ms. Hostettler and the department were completing all required tasks on her modified schedule, the Court of Appeals determined that the matter should be decided by a jury.

The full Opinion may be found here: http://www.opn.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/18a0140p-06.pdf