Coach files lawsuit, claims discrimination in reassignment | TCTA
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Coach files lawsuit, claims discrimination in reassignment

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A junior high school coach was employed at a school district from 2007 to 2018. From 2007 through 2013, she coached girls volleyball, track and basketball. During the 2013-14 school ear, she only coached girls volleyball and track. At the end of the 2014 school year, she was informed that all PE teachers would be required to coach three sports. She expressed a preference to continue to coach two sports and particularly requested not to coach basketball due to the fact that the season overlapped with the winter break. However, she did not state that she was refusing to coach three sports or that she was unwilling to coach basketball.

During the summer, the coach had lap band surgery. She scheduled the surgery during the summer so that she would not have to miss work. As a result of the surgery, she was unable to attend summer sports camps. She was subsequently informed that she had been assigned to teach ISS and that due to this reassignment, she would not have to coach basketball. She was ultimately also removed from coaching volleyball and track and was assigned to coach tennis.

The coach filed a level one grievance and a complaint with the EEOC, alleging that her reassignment to ISS constituted disability-based discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act based on her medical procedure. The grievance was denied by the the school district and she filed a lawsuit. The court dismissed the suit and the coach appealed to the Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals noted that an employer is generally prohibited from discrimination against an individual on the basis of disability. This law provides protections for people who currently have a disability, had a disability in the past, or are "regarded as" having a disability. The law states that for individuals who are "regarded as" having a disability, the protection does not apply to impairments that last less than six months. In this case, the coach was not trying to claim that she was actually disabled. Rather, she was claiming that she was "regarded as" having a disability due to her medical procedure. However, any limitations associated to that procedure were resolved within two months. Therefore, her impairment was considered to be minor and transitory and was not protected by the ADA. The Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of the lawsuit.