SW Legal studies in Business

Driving Not a Major Life Activity under Disability Law
Description

Appeals court held that an employee who had to drive as part of her job, and was fired when she was diagnosed with epilepsy and told by her doctor not to drive, was not disabled for purposes of the ADA because driving is not a major life activity.

Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words

Disability; Epilepsy; Driving; Major Life Activity

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Ireane Kellogg was hired by Oilind Safety in 2004 in Worland, Wyoming. She was a safety supervisor who traveled to oilfields to provide services to clients. In 2005 she missed a day of work without knowing she had missed work. She immediately went to a doctor who told her not to return to work until the problem was understood. Two days later, she lost consciousness at home. She was diagnosed with complex partial seizures, a form of epilepsy. Her doctor said she could return to work, but could not drive. Oilind then fired her because Olind was “not able to employ her in a safety-sensitive position” since the doctor had said she could not drive and driving was required on her job. She sued for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The jury awarded her damages. Oilind appealed.

Decision

Vacated and Remanded. An ADA case requires a showing that the plaintiff 1) is a disabled person as defined by the ADA, 2) is qualified, with or without reasonable accommodation, to perform essential functions of the job held or desired, and 3) suffered discrimination by employer or prospective employer because of that disability. Kellogg did not meet this test because driving is not a “major life activity” under the ADA. So, she was not disabled under the ADA, but the jury can determine if she was “regarded as” being disabled. The employer claimed that driving and performing safety-sensitive work were both job requirements that she could not meet after her diagnosis with epilepsy. That is a matter to be determined by the jury.

Citation Kellogg v. Energy Safety Services Inc., 544 F.3d 1121 (10th Cir., 2008)

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