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7th Circuit revives suit for woman with MS fired from city job

April 9, 2013

An Indianapolis woman who worked in the city’s Department of Metropolitan Development and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis may pursue her discrimination and retaliation claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge William T. Lawrence’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the city on two of three claims made by fired city employee Nancie Cloe in Nancie Cloe v. City of Indianapolis, 12-1713. Cloe, an unsafe buildings/nuisance abatement project manager, was fired in June 2009.

The appeals court reversed the District Court’s summary judgment against Cloe’s claims that she was discriminated against and faced retaliation for requesting a work accommodation be made because of her disability. The 7th Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the city on Cloe’s claim that the employer failed to reasonably accommodate her disability.

“Both sides agree that Cloe engaged in protected activity (requesting accommodations for her disability) and that she suffered an adverse employment action (termination). The question, then, is whether a reasonable jury could infer a causal link between the two. We think so,” Judge Michael S. Kanne wrote for the panel. “There is evidence that (a report of insubordination) may have been motivated by hostility towards Cloe’s disability.”

“We do not know whether Cloe will eventually be able to show a triable issue of fact regarding discriminatory termination. But she deserves the chance make that showing fairly, with notice, and with a full opportunity to present her evidence,” Kanne wrote.

 

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