DeWitt v. Southwestern Bell Telephone Co.
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
845 F.3d 1299 (2017)
In 1997 Janna DeWitt (plaintiff), who suffered from type 1 diabetes, was employed as a customer-service representative for Southwestern Bell Telephone Company (the company) (defendant). In January 2010, the company disciplined DeWitt for failing to cancel a customer’s account upon the customer’s request, which constituted terminable misconduct under company policy. However, the company decided to place DeWitt on a last-chance agreement. Under the agreement, DeWitt’s calls were monitored, and any incidents of subpar performance could result in termination. On March 3, DeWitt hung up on two customers. The company held a suspension meeting, during which DeWitt explained that she had no recollection of the incidents because her blood sugar had dropped dangerously low. The company determined that DeWitt’s conduct had violated the last-chance agreement and the company’s code of business conduct, under which employees must treat customers professionally and courteously. On March 15, the company terminated DeWitt. DeWitt sued the company under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) in federal district court. DeWitt claimed that the company had discriminated against her by failing to excuse misconduct caused by her disability. DeWitt alleged that excusing the misconduct was a reasonable accommodation. The district court granted the company summary judgment. The matter was appealed. On appeal, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the commission) submitted an amicus curiae brief supporting DeWitt. The commission argued that DeWitt had shown a disability-related performance deficiency rather than committed misconduct and that an employee may not be terminated for her first subpar performance deficiency resulting from a disability.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Holmes, J.)
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