Recently, the federal court in Oklahoma City denied an employer’s motion for summary judgment in an Americans with Disabilities Act case. That’s not unusual; it happens. What makes this case unusual is that the Judge did so finding the plaintiffs had presented “direct evidence” of discrimination. That is unusual. Generally, an employer moves for summary judgment under what we call the McDonnell-Douglas standard, which is a way the courts view the evidence because most of the cases involve circumstantial evidence. What happened in this case is worth reviewing, and the lesson is clear – employers must train decisionmakers about the law!
Folmar was the plant manager of a manufacturing facility (“the Plant”). He had remained in contact with some guys from high school, Dunsworth and Shelton, both veterans. Folmar knew they were both veterans. Folmar told them about some positions at the Plant. Dunsworth and then Shelton made application through a temp agency and were placed for work at the Plant. During orientation, they were asked about medication which might affect safety. They were also told to call in and speak to a supervisor or manager if they were going to be absent or late. At some point at work, Dunsworth informed the Plant’s safety rep that he had been prescribed a pain medication. The safety rep expressed some concern about it, but Dunsworth said he only took it at night because it made him drowsy. Continue reading