Fort Myers, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – When an employee engages in protected activity under the Americans with Disabilities Act, an adverse employment action that occurs shortly thereafter may raise a possible retaliation claim.
However, as the court explained in Christophe v. Walmart Inc., No. 2:22-cv-017-JES-NPM (M.D. Fla. 04/12/22), the employee must show a link between the protected activity and the adverse action.
A Walmart associate experienced a “syncopal episode” while at work and was required to undergo a cholecystectomy and cardiac surgery. After the surgery, the associate informed her immediate supervisor that she needed reasonable accommodation while she underwent medical treatments.
According to the associate, the supervisor was “dismissive” and advised that she would receive “something in the mail.” Walmart advised the associate that she could not return to work until she was medically released by her doctor. However, upon being medically released, the associate was terminated.
In turn, she sued under the ADA, claiming that Walmart retaliated against her.
The ADA prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who has opposed any act or practice made unlawful by the ADA or because the employee made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under the ADA.
To establish retaliation, an employee must show: 1) that she engaged in a protected activity or expression; 2) that she suffered an adverse employment action; and 3) a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse employment action.
The court explained that while the associate met the first two prongs, she did not connect her termination to a protected activity, and thus, she could not establish her ADA claim. The associate only claimed that she was terminated “because of her disabilities.”
“Even viewing the allegations in the light most favorable to the [associate], the absence of a causal connection between the [associate’s] protected activity and her termination is fatal to her claim,” the court wrote.
Thus, the court dismissed the associate’s ADA claim.