Thompson v. Microsoft Corp., No. 20-50218 (5th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Microsoft on plaintiff's claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for failure to accommodate, discrimination, and creation of a hostile work environment. Plaintiff's claims stemmed from his efforts to obtain accommodations for his Autism Spectrum Disorder while employed as an account technology strategist and an Enterprise Architect (EA) at Microsoft.
In regard to plaintiff's claim for failure to accommodate, the court concluded that plaintiff's requests for individuals to assist him with translating verbal information into written materials, recording meeting notes, and performing administrative tasks were unreasonable because they would exempt him from performing essential functions. Consequently, plaintiff is not a qualified person under the ADA. Furthermore, there is no genuine dispute of material fact that plaintiff's performance as an EA at this point was deficient and thus there was no genuine dispute of material fact that he could have performed EA essential functions without all of his requested accommodations. The court also concluded that, even if plaintiff were a qualified person under the ADA, he also fails to create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Microsoft failed to negotiate in a good-faith manner. The court explained that, because Microsoft had the "ultimate discretion to choose between effective accommodations," it was justified in placing plaintiff on job reassignment over his objections. In this case, the record demonstrates that plaintiff, not Microsoft, was responsible for the breakdown of the interactive process seeking reasonable accommodation in refusing to indicate interest in any vacant position.
In regard to plaintiff's discrimination claim, the court concluded that plaintiff cannot establish a prima facie discrimination claim for the same reason his failure-to-accommodate claim fails—he is not a qualified individual under the ADA. Even if he were qualified, plaintiff was not subject to an adverse employment decision. Finally, in regard to plaintiff's hostile-work-environment claim, the court concluded that none of the evidence plaintiff relies on indicates that he was subject to harassment pervasive or severe enough to alter the conditions of his employment. Furthermore, plaintiff's placement on job reassignment is not evidence of a hostile work environment.