Stevens v. Rite Aid Corp., No. 15-277 (2d Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, who suffers from a fear of needles (trypanophobia), filed suit against Rite Aid, alleging violation of his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., after he was terminated from his position as a pharmacist because he could not comply with the company's policy that required pharmacists to administer immunization injections to customers. On appeal, Rite Aid challenged the district court's award of substantial damages to plaintiff after a jury trial. Both parties appealed the district court's post-trial order that dismissed plaintiff's failure-to-accommodate claim, granted a new trial unless plaintiff agreed to a remittitur (later accepted), substantially granted plaintiff's claims for interest, and denied defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) on plaintiff's wrongful discharge and retaliation claims. The court explained that because performing immunization injections was an essential job requirement and plaintiff presented no evidence of a reasonable accommodation that would have allowed him to perform immunizations at the time of his dismissal, no juror could reasonably conclude that plaintiff was "qualified to perform the essential functions of his job, with or without reasonable accommodation." Therefore, the court reversed the post-trial denial of the JMOL on plaintiff's federal and state wrongful termination and retaliation claims, affirmed the dismissal of the failure-to-accommodate claim; and remanded for entry of a revised judgment in favor of Rite Aid.