Employee is Not "Substantially Limited" Under the ADA When He is Able to Work a 40-Hour Week But No Overtime.


Some people just can’t catch a break.  In recent years, this was certainly true of Michael Boitnott, an employee of Corning Incorporated.  Mr. Boitnott, a maintenance engineer, worked a schedule that was typical for similarly-situated co-workers, which included twelve-hour shifts, alternating bi-weekly between day shifts and night shifts.  Throughout 2002 through 2004, Mr. Boitnott experienced health problems for which he was periodically absent from work, including abdominal pain, a heart attack with further cardiac difficulties, and leukemia.  In February 2004, following his leukemia-related absence, Mr. Boitnott regained his health and told Corning he was ready to return to work.  According to his physician, however, Mr. Boitnott was limited to working a typical 40-hour, day-shift workweek without overtime.  Thus, Mr. Boitnott could not return to his former schedule of twelve-hour rotating shifts.

Corning was unable to reinstate Mr. Boitnott to the position he held before his absence because of these restrictions.  Thereafter, Mr. Boitnott filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that Corning’s refusal to allow him to work a 40-hour week was a violation of its obligation to reasonably accommodate his disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The EEOC agreed, and issued a finding in Mr. Boitnott’s favor. 

Mr. Boitnott also applied for long-term disability (LTD) benefits.  His benefits were initially approved, but later terminated because the carrier determined Mr. Boitnott was able to work a normal 40-hour workweek, and there were maintenance engineer jobs in his area that did not require overtime work. 

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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