Michael Kohner v. Lahood, Secretary, Department of Transportation, Agency

Upon review of the Agency’s efforts to provide disabled Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employee Michael Kohner with reasonable accommodation as required under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the EEOC upheld summary dismissal of Kohner’s discrimination claim because Kohner’s case did not present a genuine issue of material fact. Kohner, a seasoned employee of the FAA, requested reasonable accommodation after suffering a spinal injury that left him confined to a wheel chair and unable to walk.  The Agency, as required by the Rehab Act, accommodated Kohner until Kohner made additional accommodation requests but failed to provide required medical documentation in support of these requests.  Kohner filed a formal Equal Employment Opportunity complaint for discrimination and requested a hearing before an administrative judge.  After reviewing the facts of the case, the Administrative Judge decided to summarily dismiss Kohner’s case.  Administrative Judges are permitted to summarily issue decisions without granting a hearing if he or she determines that there is no genuine issue of material fact.  Thus, looking to the Agency record regarding Kohner’s accommodation process, the Commission determined that the Administrative Judge was correct in issuing summary judgment because Kohner did not present any evidence that would lead a reasonable fact-finder to conclude that the Agency discriminated against him by failing to provide reasonable accommodations.  The Rehab Act requires Agencies to engage in the interactive process, however, the requesting employee must also engage in the process and cooperate with the Agency.  The Agency did not violate the Rehab Act when it denied Kohner reasonable accommodation as a result of his refusing to provide the medical documentation required in support of his request.

See Michael Kohner v. Lahood, Secretary, Department of Transportation, Agency, EEOC DOC 0120110334 (E.E.O.C.), 2012 WL 4320966 (September 14, 2012); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986) (holding that summary judgment is appropriate where there exists no genuine issue of material fact); 29 C.F.R. § 1614.109(g); Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986) (defining a fact as genuine if a reasonable fact finder could find in favor of the non-moving party); Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 791 et seq., (Rehab Act).

(Development authored by Ashley Tease)