Case name: Heit v. Penn Dental Medicine, et al., No. 16‐2929 (E.D. Pa. 11/29/17).Ruling: The U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted summary judgment in favor of the University of Pennsylvania.What it means: A university cannot be guilty of disability discrimination if it does not know the nature and extent of the employee's disability.Summary: Marsha Heit became an academic coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania Dental School in 2008, and began directly reporting to Dr. Dana Graves in 2015.In July, Heit obtained intermittent time off pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act for the period from August through October. In her application for leave, Heit checked the boxes for “Serious health condition that makes me unable to work” and “Intermittent Leave.” However, she did not specify her medical condition.On Nov. 16, Heit stayed home sick from work. However, her timesheet reflected that she had been in the office for eight hours on that day.Suspecting that Heit might not have been in the office on Nov. 16, Human Resources Director Tony Farero conducted an investigation that confirmed his hunch.Farero and Graves fired Heit on Nov. 30.Heit filed a suit that asserted several claims. One of them was that her termination was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In her complaint, Heit alleged that the nature of her disability was “back pain for which she had previously taken an approved leave of absence.” In addition, Heit testified in her deposition that her FMLA leave was for depression and anxiety caused by the workplace.Penn Dental filed a motion for summary judgment.The district judge said Heit had failed to show that her termination occurred as a result of disability discrimination. He explained that Heit never told Graves or Farero what her medical conditions were, or why she had requested FMLA leave.The judge granted summary judgment in favor of the university.Disability Compliance for Higher Education Board of AdvisorsPamela MoschiniDirector, Office of Disability ServicesMuhlenberg CollegeLouise BedrossianRetired Director, Disability Resource CenterClayton State UniversityJoseph A. LoGiudiceDirector of The AccessAbility Center/Student Disability Services, City College of New YorkGail M. ZimmermanAssociate VP, Student AffairsKeene State CollegeJenna WalravenEthics & Compliance Program Manager II, Apollo Education GroupMaria G. PenaAssociate Director, Disability Resource CenterUniversity of Nevada, Las VegasAbram DoaneCoordinator, Office for Academic Success, Salus UniversityStephanie GaddyFaculty, College of Education & LeadershipWalden UniversityTom HeffronEducation Director for DisabilityServices and Financial Aid Wisconsin Technical College SystemTom ThompsonPrincipal TMLS ConsultingLoren O'ConnorAssistant Vice Chancellor, Office of Accessible Education and Counseling Services Brandman University
Disability Compliance for Higher Education – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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