Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Monday, July 13, 2009

7thCir: No ADA claim for physician fired for making threats of physical violence

Sometimes you just cannot make these cases up. Bodenstab v Cook County, ___F.3d___(7th Cir. June 22, 2009), is one such case. The 7th held that a hospital did not violate the ADA when it discharged an anesthesiologist who allegedly threatened to kill his supervisor and coworkers. The 7th concluded that the physician failed to present sufficient evidence of pretext for his claim to survive summary judgment. Without deciding whether “interacting with others” qualified as a major life activity — or, if it did, whether he was so substantially limited — the appeals court determined the physician did not present any evidence calling into question the sincerity of the county’s belief that he had threatened to harm his supervisor and coworkers and that the county fired him for that reason. Rather, the undisputed evidence supported the county’s belief that he made the threats. In so holding, the Seventh Circuit did not decide whether the physician presented a direct threat to others because even if the county could establish its burden, summary judgment was nonetheless appropriate on the discharge claim. Moreover, the physician was not entitled to a reasonable accommodation. “There is no legal obligation to ‘accommodate’ conduct, as opposed to a disability.”

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

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similarly, there's a phys-ed teacher with a mental disability who was legally fired for threatening to kill students playing basketball; Macy v. Hopkins County School Board (6th Cir. 2007) at

Posted by: kent | Jul 14, 2009 5:01:03 PM

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