Supervisor’s Telling Employee To Choose Between Her Sick Child And Her Job Precludes Dismissal Of An ADA Associational Claim
In her six months of employment, plaintiff took frequent time off to care for her infant daughter, who suffered from Reactive Airway Disease. The child was hospitalized several times, and taken to the hospital emergency room multiple other times, during the employee’s tenure on the job. Indeed, in 132 days, plaintiff arrived late 27 times, left work early on 54 occasions, and was absent 17 days. The only documentation of any actual work performance issues were one verbal warning for arriving at work six minutes late, and a single verbal reprimand for wearing jogging attire at work.
Plaintiff took time off on November 14, 2012 to care for her daughter, with whom she had gone to the emergency room the night before. She also missed work the next day, informing the supervisor that the baby required “asthma treatment every 4 hours” and remained “extremely ill.” Plaintiff was terminated the next day. Her supervisor allegedly told her that she was being let go because he “need[ed] someone who does not have kids who can be at the front desk at all times.” The supervisor also allegedly asked, “[h]ow can you guarantee me that … two weeks from now your daughter is not going to be sick again? . . . So, what is it, your job or your daughter?”
The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) prohibits discrimination against an employee because of his or her relationship with a disabled person. The employee filed a lawsuit alleging ADA associational disability. The employer moved for summary judgment dismissing the case. A federal trial judge in Manhattan cited the supervisor’s alleged remark, which would have forced plaintiff to choose between “your job or your daughter,” as “direct evidence” linking the supervisor’s hostility toward plaintiff’s association with her sick child to his decision to terminate plaintiff. The court ruled that this was sufficient to preclude dismissal of the ADA associational disability claim, and send the case to a jury. Manon v. 878 Education, LLC, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27016 (S.D.N.Y. 2015).