Kauffman v. Petersen Health Care VII, LLC, No. 13-3661 (7th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
In 1981 the plaintiff began working as one of two hairdresser-manicurists at a nursing home. Mondays and Tuesdays the plaintiff would transport residents in their wheelchairs from their rooms to the nursing home’s beauty shop, do their hair, then return them to their rooms. Other days she mainly did the hair of ambulatory residents and of residents confined to their rooms. She had unrelated duties, such as helping in the laundry and carrying trays. In 2010 the plaintiff had a hysterectomy. Her doctor gave her permission to return to work eight weeks later, with the notation that she could not push over 20 pounds, raised to 50 pounds five months later. The doctor advised “you can’t be pushing and lifting” people in wheelchairs, because, over time, that would tear loose the mesh lining “and you’ll be back in for bladder repair.” The plaintiff notified her supervisor, who stated that he would not accommodate her disability. She quit. Until she was replaced, the remaining hairdresser received assistance from other staff in transporting residents. There was no indication that this diversion of staff from their normal duties was costly or impaired the care provided the residents. The district court rejected plaintiff’s suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12112(a). The Seventh Circuit reversed, stating that the employer would have a difficult time establishing that a reasonable accommodation would be a hardship.