Chrysler hired Loretta Steward in 1997 as an hourly employee at its Viper plant in Detroit. In October 2004, Chrysler placed Steward on medical restrictions because of hand, shoulder and neck pain. The restrictions, which limited her lifting to 10 pounds or less, prevented Steward from performing her job installing windshields on an assembly line.
Later that month, a Chrysler HR specialist identified a position on the line that could accommodate Steward, and recommended she be allowed to bump another worker from the position because she had seniority. In January 2005, Chrysler assigned Steward an assistant to help her with lifting, but budget issues forced the company to discontinue the accommodation.
When Steward’s restrictions increased, and there were no available positions to suit her, Chrysler placed her on paid layoff.
The day before Chrysler laid off Steward, she filed an EEOC complaint. Later, she filed a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. Steward claimed she was laid off in retaliation for her EEOC complaint.
The court found for Chrysler on several grounds. First, Steward was bound by an agreement she signed when she joined the company that imposed a six-month statute of limitations on litigation against the company. Second, her ADA claim failed because she could not show that a reasonable accommodation would have allowed her to perform any of the available jobs at Chrysler.
A simple matter of timing did in her retaliation complaint: Records showed Chrysler did not receive notice of Steward’s EEOC filing until four days after her layoff.
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