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Dallas partner, John Ross, recently obtained a summary judgment on behalf of his trucking company client, CKJ Trucking, in an ADA discrimination and FMLA retaliation suit filed in federal court in Sherman, Texas.

Plaintiff was employed with the company three times between 2008 and 2017. During his third stint of employment, he was approved for FMLA leave twice, once due to an alleged on-the-job injury to his right foot and the other to seek medical treatment for chest pains. He was medically unable to return to work at the end of twelve weeks of FMLA leave. While on leave, Plaintiff hired an attorney in connection with the foot injury and the attorney wrote the company to inform the company of his representation and directed the company not to communicate with his client “directly or indirectly.”

Months later, Plaintiff received a full and complete medical release, but when he showed up at the company to inquire about a Christmas bonus, company officials informed him they could not speak with him because of the instructions from Plaintiff’s attorney. Plaintiff “assumed” he had been fired, filed an EEOC Charge, and later filed suit alleging disability discrimination (discharge), FMLA retaliation, and ADA failure-to-accommodate claims.

Regarding the ADA disability discrimination claim, the Court held that Plaintiff was not a qualified individual with a disability because he had a full and complete medical release and had not suffered any adverse actions because the company merely followed the instructions of Plaintiff’s attorney not to speak with the Plaintiff.

The ADA failure-to-accommodate claim also failed because Plaintiff was not a qualified individual with a disability, did not need any accommodation because he had received a full and complete medical release, and never asked for any accommodation.

Finally, regarding the FMLA retaliation claim, Plaintiff offered no evidence of a causal connection between his having taken FMLA leave and his “termination,” he did not suffer an adverse action—company officials merely followed the lawyer’s instructions—and Plaintiff testified during his deposition that he did not believe his FMLA leave had anything to do with his “discharge.”

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John L. Ross

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