Court Gives Teacher's ADA Claims New Life


By: Courtney K. Mazzio
After many years of teaching, Joseph Terre found himself without employment upon his return from FMLA leave in October 2014 due to alleged budget cuts at the high school where he had been teaching Economics for just under one year. In February 2015, Mr. Terre, then 71, filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC and subsequently sued the school district in February 2015 claiming the school violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) and Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) in replacing him with a younger teacher while he was on his approved FMLA leave for disability for a bad hip. The district court eventually granted summary judgment to the school district, with the rationale that Mr. Terre failed to demonstrate the school was motivated by age as to his ADEA claim, and that his ADA claim had not been pursued to its complete zenith before the EEOC.
Mr. Terre continued to fight, and on appeal before the Sixth Circuit, it was determined he had in fact maintained an ADA claim that should have sustained summary judgment, and that he had exhausted all of his efforts on both the ADEA claim and the ADA claim with the EEOC. The Sixth Circuit also found the district court erred in determining Mr. Terre did not make out a case for disparate treatment in saying he was qualified for his job when the school took action against him and that there was evidence Mr. Terre was fired for discriminatory reasons. Interestingly, the principal at the school approached a younger teacher while Mr. Terre was on leave to inquire as to his willingness to obtain a certification in Economics after Mr. Terre had discussed with the principal that he might need to work in a wheelchair upon his return.
For more information, please contact Courtney Mazzio at [email protected].