Administrative assistant Debra Callahan was fired after taking a cluster of absences to address various health problems and extensive evaluations for an undiagnosed? illness.???? ?Reversing ?summary judgment for the employer, the Court of Appeals held that she is entitled to a trial on whether her undiagnosed multiple sclerosis (MS) constitutes a disability under the Washington Law Against Discrimination and whether it was a substantial factor in her termination for allegedly excessive absenteeism.? ?The definition of a disability refers to ?a medically cognizable or diagnosable condition.??? MS is susceptible to recognition and diagnosis, held the Court. ?Further, nothing that the Washington Human Rights Commission?s finding of reasonable cause to conclude discrimination had occurred ?strongly supports her assertion that reasonable minds? might differ? on whether ?her disease disabled her by causing a cluster of unavoidable absences.??? Likewise, the matter was remanded for trial because there was sufficient disputed evidence that her supervisor may have learned of the MS diagnosis prior to terminating her and an inference of discrimination could be drawn from evidence that unlike other employees? absences, Callahan was subjected to sudden strict adherence to its policy manual for reporting absences.? ?Callahan v. Walla Walla Housing Authority, No. 22587-9-III (04/12/05; Schultheis, Brown, Sweeney).
Undiagnosed Multiple Sclerosis Can be a Disability under RCW 49.60
Apr 12, 2005