The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled recently that an employer’s decision to terminate an employee for absenteeism in accordance with its attendance policies was non-discriminatory despite the employee’s claims that she was unlawfully fired and retaliated against because of her disabilities. 

The ruling by the First Circuit in Miceli v. JetBlue Airways Corp., No. 18-1345 (1st Cir. January 28, 2019), applying an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) analysis to a case brought under Massachusetts state law, affirmed a trial court’s dismissal of a lawsuit on grounds that the employer’s uniform application of its attendance policy was a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for terminating an employee who runs afoul of the policy. 

According to the court, “Uniform application of a facially neutral policy that proscribes unexcused absences is a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for termination that is distinct from the employee’s disability.”   

The First Circuit also concluded that the trial court ruled correctly in rejecting the employee’s claim that she was suspended and terminated in retaliation for filing a complaint with her local antidiscrimination agency. The court found that an ill-performing employee can still be disciplined without the action amounting to retaliation, especially when the issues leading to the disciplinary action – as here – occurred prior to the employer having knowledge of the protected activity.

A copy of the Miceli ruling is available here.

Members of the Center for Workplace Compliance (CWC) can read more here.