Jeffrey Israelitt v. Enterprise Services LLC, No. 22-1382 (4th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
While working an IT position at Enterprise Services LLC, Plaintiff said he was discriminated against because he has disability—an arthritic big toe. The company says the issues arose because Plaintiff didn’t work well with others, and actually, didn’t work much at all. Plaintiff says the issues arose because of his alleged disability. After he was fired, he brought claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act asserting that Enterprise Services discriminated against him because of his toe and retaliated against him for seeking toe-related accommodations. For the retaliation claim, the district court held that Enterprise Services’ only potentially retaliatory act was firing Plaintiff and allowed him to take that claim to trial. But Enterprise Services moved to strike Plaintiff’s jury-trial demand. The district court granted the motion. Following the bench trial, the district court entered judgment for Enterprise Services on the remaining claim because Plaintiff failed to prove he was fired because he asked for disability accommodations.
The Fourth Circuit affirmed. First, while the district court did cite an outdated EEOC regulation when determining he is not disabled within the meaning of the ADA, he is not disabled under any reasonable reading of the ADA. So that disposes of every claim except retaliation. Second, Burlington Northern makes clear that only “significant” harm to an employee constitutes retaliatory adverse action. And only his termination met that threshold. Third, a straightforward reading of Section 1981a(a)(2) shows that an ADA-retaliation plaintiff is not entitled to legal damages and, therefore not guaranteed a jury trial by the Seventh Amendment.