Employee must show how chronic pain prevents work

In order to win a disability discrimination case, a worker who claims she is disabled by pain has to show how that affects her ability to work. If the employee misses work but doesn’t explain why or that it’s related to her disability, she doesn’t have a case.

Recent case: Julia, a financial analyst, developed several medical conditions that she said limited her ability to function. The company granted her medical leave. When her leave was over, she failed to show up for work for eight out of nine days.

She was terminated and sued, alleging disability discrimination.

The court dismissed Julia’s case because she never tried to explain how her condition caused pain so severe that she could not do her job and made her miss work. Merely having a medical diagnosis is not enough. (Smith v. Constellation Brands, 9th Cir., 2018)