EEOC v. St. Joseph's Hospital, Inc., No. 15-14551 (11th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Leokadia Bryk, a disabled nurse, sought a reasonable accommodation in the form of a job reassignment to another unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital because she required the use of a cane, which posed a safety hazard in the psychiatric ward where she worked. After Bryk did not obtain another Hospital position, the Hospital terminated her employment. The EEOC filed suit on her behalf against the Hospital. Based on the framework in U.S. Airways, Inc. v. Barnett, the court affirmed the district court's finding that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., did not require job reassignment without competition as a reasonable accommodation. The court also agreed with the district court’s summary judgment rulings finding that Bryk was a “disabled qualified individual” under the ADA and that the Hospital’s 30-day allowance to apply for alternate jobs was reasonable as a matter of law. However, the court disagreed with the district court’s order granting in part the EEOC’s Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) motion for alteration of the judgment. The court explained that, except in rare circumstances not present here, motions under Rule 59(e) may not be used to raise new legal theories or arguments, much less in this case where the movant under Rule 59(e), the EEOC, was seeking to contravene language in the jury instructions and verdict form that the EEOC had previously proposed. Therefore, the EEOC failed to meet the Rule 59(e) standard and the district court erred in altering the judgment. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.