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GE did not discriminate against employee

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A longtime employee at the Bloomington General Electric Co. plant could not prove to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that the company discriminated against her because of a disability and retaliated against her when she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Renee Majors suffered a work-related shoulder injury in 2000 that permanently left her limited to lifting no more than 20 pounds and other restrictions regarding her right arm. In May 2009, she was the senior most eligible bidder for a temporary purchased material auditor position. Under the plant's collective bargaining agreement, vacant positions are to be awarded to the senior most eligible employee who bids on the position.

But the auditor position required lifting more than 20 pounds occasionally and GE determined Majors was not medically qualified for the position. Majors suggested that a material handler could do the heavy lifting. Majors filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC alleging she was denied the temporary position because of her disability and sex. She then claimed as a result of filing her EEOC charge, she was denied overtime hours and the chance to work “lack of work” Fridays at the plant.

A few months later, she decided to participate in the early retirement program and retire in November 2009. But before her retirement, she applied for a permanent senior auditor position. It went to another bidder because of the lifting requirements. Majors then filed a second suit alleging discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII, retaliation and constructive discharge.

The District Court granted summary judgment to GE on all of Majors’ claims. She appealed in Renee S. Majors v. General Electric Co., 12-2893, except the Title VII discrimination claim.

“The accommodation Ms. Majors seeks – another person to perform an essential function of the job she wants – is, as a matter of law, not reasonable, so GE isn’t required to show the accommodation would create an undue hardship. Ms. Majors hasn’t pointed to evidence that could support a finding that she was a qualified individual (under the ADA); without that, she can’t show that GE failed to provide a reasonable accommodation,” wrote Judge Robert L. Miller Jr. of the Northern District of Indiana, sitting by designation.

Looking toward her retaliation claim, Miller wrote, “When examined in context, the assignment to Ms. Majors of less overtime hours than two of her coworkers and fewer ‘lack of work’ Fridays than three of her coworkers during the months after she filed an EEOC charge doesn’t amount to sufficient evidence to support an inference of causation.”

“We agree with the district court that Ms. Majors has offered no evidence that would allow her retaliation claim to survive summary judgment under either the direct or indirect method of proof,” he wrote.

The 7th Circuit affirmed in all respects.

 

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  1. The $320,000 is the amount the school spent in litigating two lawsuits: One to release the report involving John Trimble (as noted in the story above) and one defending the discrimination lawsuit. The story above does not mention the amount spent to defend the discrimination suit, that's why the numbers don't match. Thanks for reading.

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