A federal court in Massachusetts was faced with the case of a Census Bureau employee whose inflammatory bladder disease, known as “interstitial cystitis” required her to use the bathroom as often as every 20 minutes when she was under stress. She sought frequent bathroom breaks as an accommodation.
The employee claimed that while she was in the restroom her supervisor would call her on her desk phone, would send another employee into the bathroom looking for her, and would “shake his head disapprovingly” when she returned to her desk. After a two week medical leave, the employee’s desk had been moved and her duties reassigned. Three days later, she was terminated.
She sued under the ADA and The Rehabilitation Act, and on the employer’s motion for summary judgment the Court held that under the 2008 ADA amendments (“ADAA”) there was a genuine issue of fact as to whether she was disabled since “a reasonable jury could find that she is substantially limited in her ability to work.”
Similarly, the Court held that “a reasonable jury could conclude that [her] request for accommodation became the deciding factor in her termination decision,” despite her performance deficiencies on the job.
Finally, the Court held that “a reasonable jury could conclude that Defendant, upon learning of Plaintiff’s disability and/or request for bathroom accommodations, artificially inflated the severity of these [performance] deficiencies as pretext for firing her based on her disability.”