SW Legal studies in Business

Military Status Requirement Eliminated Cause of Action for Employment Discrimination
Description

West Virginia high court held that because state law required that firefighters for the Air National Guard must be members of the Air National Guard, once a member of the Guard had been dismissed from the Guard due to mental disability, he was no longer eligible to be a firefighter so could not bring suit for disability discrimination.

Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words

Mental Disability; Military Service

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Little was a firefighter employed by the West Virginia Adjutant General (AG). The AG is in charge of much of the operation of the state National Guard. Little was a member of the Air National Guard at the time he was hired by the AG to work at an airport where a wing of the Air National Guard was housed. While employed by the AG, Little was dismissed by the National Guard based on a mental disability after he attempted to commit suicide. He was evaluated and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. The AG then fired Little as a firefighter because he was no longer a member of the National Guard. Little sued for employment discrimination. The West Virginia high court was asked to resolve state law on the issue.

Decision

State law requires that a firefighter for the Air National Guard must be a member of the Air National Guard. Hence, once Little was no longer a member of the Air National Guard, the AG had a complete defense to his claim of employment discrimination. Little could not bring his claim of employment discrimination based on mental disability because he was not eligible for employment in his position.

Citation

Little v. West Virginia Adjutant General, ---S.E.2d--- (2009 WL 1543896, Sup. Ct., W.Va., 2009)

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