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EEOC v. The Picture People, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
684 F.3d 981 (10th Cir. 2012)


In October 2007, Jessica Chrysler (plaintiff) was hired as a “performer” by photography studio The Picture People, Inc. (TPP) (defendant). Profoundly deaf since birth, Chrysler was hired despite being unable to speak or read lips. The performer job required four primary duties: customer intake, sales, portrait photography, and laboratory work. For most of the year, all performers needed to be able to perform all four job functions. Chrysler worked between 15 and 20 studio-portrait sessions, alongside a hearing performer, and tried working a few sessions on her own. Chrysler relied on written notes, gestures, and pantomime to communicate with customers. This was difficult, because portrait subjects were often young children, and portrait sessions were limited to 20-minute increments. Chrysler also used notes and gestures to make customer sales. After Chrysler’s district manager determined her communication methods were too impractical, Chrysler was reassigned exclusively to the photo lab. In December 2007, studio management reported poor job performance by Chrysler in the lab, unrelated to her disability. Chrysler was never scheduled to work after December 2007 and officially terminated in October 2008. Chrysler sued TPP under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., alleging disability discrimination and retaliation. The district court granted summary judgment for TPP, concluding Chrysler failed to show she was qualified to perform an essential job function. Chrysler appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kelly, J.)

Dissent (Holloway, J.)

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