Employment LawFinal Exam model answers Sum 09

Employment LawFinal Exam model answers Sum 09 - Model...

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Model Answers Question 1 (50 Points) 1. Disability Discrimination A. Removal from patrol officer position Jeff may claim that his removal from the patrol officer position constitutes disability discrimination. A “disability” under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is any physical or mental impairment that limits a major life activity, a record of such impairment, or being regarded as having such impairment. For something to limit a major life activity, it must merely make that activity difficult. Hearing is certainly a major life activity. The facts seem to indicate that Jeff’s condition makes hearing difficult for him. Even if Jeff’s condition did not meet this threshold, he is probably still protected under the theory that the PD “regards” him as disabled – since, in their view, his condition disqualifies him from employment as a patrol officer. (The analysis under the ADA is the same, except the definition of disability requires a substantial limitation, which is a slightly higher standard. Since we are in California, the more generous provisions of the FEHA would be the focus.) The FEHA and the ADA both prohibit discrimination against a qualified individual with a disability. An individual is “qualified” if he, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the relevant job. “Discriminate” includes not making reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified employee unless the employer can demonstrate the accommodations would impose an undue hardship. An employer is also obligated to engage in a timely, good faith interactive process to determine reasonable accommodations in response to a request for an accommodation by an employee or applicant with a known disability. Here, although the PD appears to have engaged in an adequate interactive process, Jeff actually does not request any accommodation to do the patrol officer job -- he believes he can hear well enough to do it just fine. Moreover, it is conceded that there are no accommodations that would enable Jeff to localize sound. Thus, Jeff’s potential claim related to his removal from the patrol officer position is not failure to accommodate. Instead, Jeff is removed from the position against his wishes, which is an adverse employment action, and could give rise to a claim of intentional discrimination on the basis of his disability. Jeff will need to prove a prima facie case under the McDonnell Douglas framework. The elements are: (1) he is in a protected class; (2) he is qualified/competently performing; (3) suffered an adverse employment action; and (4) circumstances suggesting discriminatory motive. As discussed below, the focus will be on the second element. If Jeff proves a prima facie case, ultimately he should prevail because in that situation the 1
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PD could not offer a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the adverse employment action - his hearing impairment is admittedly the reason for the adverse action. Jeff will argue that he graduated near the top of his class at the academy and received a
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Employment LawFinal Exam model answers Sum 09 - Model...

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