ADA Case Dismissed on Plaintiff’s Conflicting Statements

On May 4, 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a case from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in which a security guard sued for discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Myers v. Knight Protective Serv., Inc. (10th Cir. 2012).

Alphonso Myers’s case was dismissed by the Tenth Circuit because he could not show he was qualified to perform his job with or without reasonable accommodation. In his application for Social Security disability benefits, Myers stated he was in constant pain, could only walk or stand for limited periods of time, and could not lift more than 10 pounds due to an injury. However, in his written employment application, Myers acknowledged that the essential functions of the job included prolonged walking, standing, and heavy lifting. At no time did he indicate a disability would prevent him from performing these duties.

The Tenth Circuit held the statement Myers made to Social Security—which made it clear he was unable to perform the essential functions of the position—was not consistent with the statement he made to his employer and dismissed his lawsuit. “To be sure,” the court noted, “we won’t always find a discrimination claim barred because an individual applies for or receives social security benefits. But when a plaintiff makes seemingly inconsistent statements like those before us, he must offer a ‘sufficient explanation’ for the apparent contradiction. That Mr. Myers failed to do.”