Friday, September 05, 2003

Summary judgment denied in ADA claim of one-armed man

In Riffey v. K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc., Judge Jones denied the employer's motion for summary judgment in a case brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act by a man who was born without one arm.

Of course, if the plaintiff had only the one arm when he was hired, and the people who fired him were the same as those who hired him, then there might be a pretty strong inference that he was fired for something else. See Proud v. Stone, 945 F.2d 796, 797 (4th Cir. 1991) (“a strong inference exists that discrimination was not a determining factor for the adverse action taken by the employer” where the same individuals who gave a job to the plaintiff removed the plaintiff a short time later); see also Taylor v. Virginia Union University, 193 F.3d 219, 231 (4th Cir. 1999) (citing Proud); Mitchell v. Data General Corp., 12 F.3d 1310, 1318 (4th Cir. 1993) (same). Compare Schnabel v. Abramson, 232 F.3d 83, 91 (2d Cir. 2000) (“where the person who made the decision to fire was the same person who made the decision to hire, it is difficult to impute to her an invidious motivation that would be inconsistent with the decision to hire”); Grossmann v. Dillard Department Stores, Inc., 109 F.3d 457, 459 (8th Cir. 1997) (“To uphold the jury’s verdict, we would have to believe that Franzke, himself fifty-eight, was free of age bias when he hired Grossmann, suddenly turned against older workers four years later, then just as abruptly changed his mind again”); Brown v. CSC Logic, Inc., 82 F.3d 651, 658 (5th Cir. 1996) (citing Proud as best explanation of “same actor” inference); E.E.O.C. v. Our Lady of Resurrection Med. Ctr., 77 F.3d 145, 152 (7th Cir. 1996) (“The same hirer/firer inference has strong presumptive value”); Buhrmaster v. Overnite Transp. Co., 61 F.3d 461, 463 (6th Cir. 1995) (“It is simply incredible that the company officials who hired an employee at age fifty-one had suddenly developed an aversion to older people two years later”).

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