Parsons Behle & Latimer represented a Utah city in employment claims filed by a former city employee. Although the City had a documented performance-based reason for terminating this person’s employment, they alleged that these reasons were a pretext to cover up disability discrimination and retaliation and workers compensation retaliation. The former employee sought damages for alleged lost wages, emotional distress, and punitive damages. The former employee also alleged a pre-termination failure to accommodate—although the city provided a light duty assignment, he alleged that the accommodations were not sufficient. The plaintiff’s claims were asserted under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act and state common law. 

 The court granted summary judgment on all the plaintiff’s termination claims but did not grant summary judgment on the pre-termination failure to accommodate claim that was asserted under the federal Rehabilitation Act. The Parsons’ trial team reviewed Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller, PLLC—a United States Supreme Court decision issued after summary judgment briefing was complete that held that punitive and emotional distress damages are not available under the Rehabilitation Act. Because the plaintiff had only sought emotional distress and punitive damages for the alleged failure to accommodate, the city obtained leave to file a second motion for summary judgment arguing that the remaining Rehabilitation Act claim should be dismissed because no damages were available to the Plaintiff after the Cummings decision.

 On Feb. 20, the Court granted the second Motion for Summary Judgment on the remaining Rehabilitation Act failure to accommodate claim and entered a judgment in favor of the municipal employer.