2.04.2010

Male Nurse Claims Sleep Deprivation for Loss of Job

A recent Sixth Circuit case involving the firing of a male nurse who claimed to have sleep deprivation provided an interesting analysis of discrimination cases involving reverse sex discrimination and the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). The male nurse was terminated because he failed to complete his charting responsibilities during his night shift. He claimed that he was let go because of his sex, and also that his employer failed to accommodate his disability, namely sleep deprivation.

The Court said the man failed to show sufficient evidence of reverse sex bias, even though he claimed that a female nurse didn't properly chart one patient. The facts were that the male nurse failed to chart four patients, so his actions were more serious. The court also provided guidance on how a plaintiff must establish a prima facie reverse discrimination case, saying that a plaintiff must show "background circumstances to support the suspicion that the defendant is that unusual employer who discriminates against the majority."

In his ADA claim, the male nurse only provided uncorroborated testimony as to his sleeping two to four hours per night. He also claimed that he asked to be transferred to the day shift, an allegation denied by the employer. The Court, while recognizing that sleep is a major life activity under the ADA, said the nurse did not prove that his sleep issues rose to the level of substantial impairment, saying that "sleeping between two and four hours per night, while inconvenient, simply lacks the kind of severity we require of an ailment before we will say that the ailment qualifies as a substantial limitation."

Author: Doug Kennedy
            614.723.2004
            dkennedy@ralaw.com

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