By: Gregory K. Sabo and Chelsea L. Zwart
May 25, 2017
Mendoza v. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles (9th Cir. 2016) 824 F.3d 1148
In Mendoza v. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles (9th Cir. 2016) 824 F.3d 1148, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that an employer is not required to offer an employee the same position upon return from sick leave if the position was eliminated during the employee’s leave period for a legitimate non-discriminatory business reason.
In Mendoza, prior to taking sick leave for ten months, the plaintiff worked full-time as a bookkeeper for a small Catholic church. During her absence, the pastor of the church took over the bookkeeping duties himself and determined that the duties could be performed adequately by a part-time bookkeeper. Accordingly, when the plaintiff returned to work, the pastor offered her the same bookkeeping position she had held before her leave of absence, but on a part-time basis. The plaintiff refused, demanding a full-time position. She then sued her former employer, asserting claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) for discrimination, disparate treatment, and failure to accommodate for failing to return her to a full-time position following her medical leave.