Post & Schell Secures Summary Judgment for Lehigh Valley Hospital in RN Disability Discrimination Case
The case, Anderson v. Lehigh Valley Hospital, involved a four-count Complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Lehigh Valley Hospital (“LVH”) by a former employee asserting claims under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. Specifically, the employee, a Registered Nurse, alleged that LVH failed to accommodate her alleged cognitive disability and then discriminated against her by terminating her employment. The employee also asserted retaliation claims, but withdrew those claims at the summary judgment stage.
Following an extended period of employment during which the employee received lukewarm performance evaluations and numerous written warnings regarding her substandard job performance, she was hospitalized with bacterial meningitis. The employee recovered and was reinstated, but thereafter struggled with higher-level functioning and reported mental fuzziness she believed was causally related to residual cognitive deficits secondary to the meningitis infection. LVH took a number of proactive measures to help the employee address her continuing performance issues, including having the employee examined by a neurobehavioral specialist, but ultimately terminated her employment because LVH concluded that she posed an unacceptable, and unavoidable, risk of potential harm to patients.
The Honorable Henry S. Perkin granted LVH’s motion for summary judgment, specifically relying on the employee’s failure “to establish that LVH did not make a good faith effort to assist her in seeking accommodations.” Judge Perkin also found that there was no issue for trial suggesting that “recurrent performance issues … did not actually motivate [plaintiff’s] termination.” No appeal was filed following the entry of judgment in LVH’s favor.
Darren M. Creasy