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June 2017

Gordon & Rees Employment Team Secures Dismissal of Disability and Age Discrimination Case

Denver partner Laurie J. Rust and associate Megan Garnett recently secured dismissal of claims for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) against Gordon & Rees’s client, a meat distributor, in Denver, Colorado. The plaintiff, a 72-year-old former employee, had suffered a brain aneurysm which left her unable to work for an indeterminate amount of time. The employer kept her job open for three months, but, after speaking with her and observing ongoing confusion, terminated her employment. The plaintiff was, somewhat miraculously, released to return to work one month later.

The plaintiff filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, claiming that her former employer failed to engage in the ADA’s interactive process and to provide a four month leave of absence as a reasonable accommodation.  She also claimed that she was improperly replaced with a younger worker. 

Gordon & Rees’s attorneys filed a Motion to Dismiss, arguing that a leave of absence for an indeterminate amount of time is not a reasonable accommodation and that the interactive process is simply a means to identifying a reasonable accommodation.  As she was not qualified for the job at the time of termination, they argued, both claims fail.

The Honorable Richard Matsch set a hearing after briefing was completed.  Noting his distaste for motions to dismiss in employment cases, Judge Matsch agreed with Gordon & Rees’s attorneys and dismissed the case in its entirety.