Lewis v. Union City, Georgia, No. 15-11362 (11th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants in an action alleging that plaintiff was unlawfully discharged from the police department based on disability and/or racial or gender discrimination. The court held that plaintiff's evidence was insufficient to meet her prima facie burden that she was actually disabled, but was sufficient on whether she was regarded as disabled. The court also held that the district court erred in holding that plaintiff failed to produce sufficient evidence that she was a qualified individual. The court reasoned that, in this case, there was significant evidence that cuts against Union City's contention that exposure to OC spray and Taser shocks were essential functions of the job of police detective. The court also held that plaintiff met her prima facie burden of demonstrating that the City discriminated against her because of her perceived disability. Plaintiff had produced sufficient evidence that she was not a direct threat, the differing treatment of plaintiff's white colleagues, in combination with the rest of the evidence, was part of a mosaic of circumstantial evidence sufficient to create a triable issue of material fact on whether the police department's actions were discriminatory on the basis of race and/or gender. Finally, the court rejected plaintiff's claim of municipal liability.