On March 31, 2016, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of the district court which granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss an ADA complaint for failure to state a cause of action. Roberts, et al. v. City of Chicago, No. 15-1963 (7th Cir., 3/31/2016). The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago alleging disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The plaintiffs, who applied for but were denied positions as firefighters after they failed their initial medical screenings, claimed that the City’s failure to hire them violated the ADA. The district court dismissed the plaintiffs’ complaint because it failed to allege that the plaintiffs were not hired because of their disabilities, and, therefore, failed to allege a violation of the ADA.
The ADA prohibits discrimination against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to job application procedures and hiring. The plaintiffs alleged that the City discriminated against them on the basis of their disabilities. However, to establish an ADA claim, a plaintiff must show that: (1) he or she is disabled; (2) he or she is otherwise qualified to perform the essential functions of his or her job with or without reasonable accommodation; and (3) the adverse job action was caused by his or her disability. Thus, the plaintiffs were required but failed to plead that the City failed to hire them because of their disabilities. Instead, they alleged that the City failed to hire them due to the extensive medical requests in the hiring process, that were a consequence of their disabilities. The 7th Circuit held that this was insufficient to establish an ADA claim because it did not satisfy the necessary element of causation.
Moreover, the medical requests themselves did not violate the ADA. The ADA allows an employer, after making an offer of employment to a job applicant, to require a medical examination, and to condition the offer on the results of the examination, if all entering employees are subjected to the same examination, regardless of disability.