(CN) – A store in Arkansas had the right to fire an employee who couldn’t work for six months because she had cancer, the 8th Circuit ruled. “Courts recognize that employers should not be burdened with guess-work regarding an employee’s return to work after an illness,” Judge Limbaugh wrote.
Floyce Reed Peyton, a manager of Fred’s Stores of Arkansas, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had to be hospitalized for surgery. She was unsure when she could return to work.
The area manager said she called Peyton twice in the hospital, to ask how she was doing and how the store could accommodate her illness.
But six days after the diagnosis, the store decided to replace Peyton by promoting the assistant manager.
After Peyton underwent six months of chemotherapy, her doctor gave her a limited release for work.
Peyton sued the company under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), claiming she was discriminated against because of her illness. The district court sided with her, ruling that Peyton could not work at the time, so she was not “otherwise qualified” to perform her job, with or without accommodation.
A three-judge panel disagreed.
“Despite the unfortunate circumstances,” Judge Limbaugh wrote, “the ADA does not provide for recovery against her employer.”
Limbaugh noted that Peyton’s illness and treatment prevented her from working for six months. Asking her employers to wait indefinitely for her return was an unreasonable accommodation, the court ruled.