Merely complaining about aches and pains isn’t enough to put an employer on notice that an employee is disabled and needs an ADA accommodation.
Recent case: Carlen worked for J.B. Hunt as a truck driver, delivering appliances. The company received several customer complaints about Carlen; some of them even banned him from making deliveries. J.B. Hunt warned Carlen about the problem and told him he could be terminated.
While making a delivery, Carlen felt pain in his arm and back. He reported the problem to the company, but continued to work. On occasion afterward, Carlen would complain he was in pain. His supervisor asked him several times whether he could finish his shifts. Carlen always said he could and never saw a doctor.
Then J.B. Hunt fired Carlen because of the customer complaints. Shortly afterward, he did see a doctor and eventually had wrist surgery.
He sued, alleging disability discrimination and failure to accommodate.
J.B. Hunt argued that Carlen shouldn’t be considered disabled because he never revealed a disability or asked for an accommodation. Carlen argued it was clear he had been in pain.
But pain alone, the court concluded, does not prove a disability. It dismissed the case. (Boudreaux v. J.B. Hunt, No. 2:14-00720, ED CA, 2015)
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