Sunday, August 12, 2012
Federal court rules that disability discrimination must be sole factor in claim against federal government
In a case of first impression, the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Palmquist v. Shinseki ruled that a federal employee's complaint of retaliation for complaining about disability discrimination must be the sole factor in an employment action to allow recovery under the Rehabilitation Act. The Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. sec. 701, et seq., protects federal employees from discrimination in employment based on disability. The employee in Palmquist argued that he should be allowed to recover damages against his employer, the Department of Veteran Affairs, where retaliation for his complaint of discrimination was a motivating factor, but not the only factor, in the denial of his promotion. The federal appeals court disagreed, ruling that the "mixed-motive" standard from Title VII did not apply to the Rehabilitation Act because the Act uses language from the American with Disabilities Act in prohibiting adverse employment actions "because" an employee opposed a practice unlawful under the Act.