Administrative Hearing Commission

Editor:
Richard Maseles, Esquire

Electrician “laid off” by contractor entitled to back pay and damages for humiliation, emotional distress, and violation of civil rights because contractor perceived him as being disabled by systemic lupus, even though he only had lesser form of disease. State ex rel. Bay v. Ashcraft & Assocs. Electrical Contractors, Inc., No. 10-0005 HRC (Mo. AHC, February 12, 2012), Winn, C.

Bay had discoid lupus, which differs from systemic lupus in that it is limited to the skin, while systemic lupus can affect the entire body. He union assigned him to a job working for Ashcraft. The next day, Ashcraft (the company’s owner) told Bay he was laying Bay off and gave Bay a termination slip that said “reduction in force,” but hired another electrician for the same job, then gave conflicting reasons for the dismissal to others.

Decision:
The commission recommended that the Human Rights Commission award back pay, damages for humiliation, emotional distress, and violation of civil rights. Ashcraft’s allegation that he fired Bay for smoking was not credible—he had told others that Bay’s lupus was a significant concern, and also alleged that he dismissed Bay for smoking. Bay was disabled under the Human Rights Act, § 213.010(4), RSMo, because he was regarded as having an impairment that did not interfere with his performing his job. The “regarded as” requirement is met when an employer mistakenly believes an actual impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as work.