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Home / Case Digests / 99-3023 Hoffman v. Caterpillar, Inc.

99-3023 Hoffman v. Caterpillar, Inc.

“Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Hoffman, we find that there is an issue of fact as to whether Hoffman would be able to operate the high-speed scanner. Because “Congress perceived that employers were basing employment decisions on unfounded stereotypes,” Siefken v. Vill. of Arlington Heights, 65 F.3d 664, 666 (7th Cir.1995), the ADA discourages employment decisions “‘based on stereotypes and generalizations associated with the individual’s disability rather than on the individual’s actual characteristics.'”… The ADA recognizes that a non-disabled person’s instincts about the capabilities of a disabled person are often likely to be incorrect. Therefore, a determination that two-handed people use both of their hands to operate the high-speed scanner, or even a determination that most one-handed people would be unable to run it, should not be the end of an employer’s inquiry. In this case, it seems doubtful that Cripe made an individualized determination as to whether Hoffman could operate the high-speed scanner because he never gave her a chance to try it. Caterpillar claims that the primary reason that Hoffman lacks the capability to run the high-speed scanner is that she would be unable to effectively clear the frequent paper jams that occur. There is evidence in the record, however, that Hoffman clears paper jams from the copy machine without assistance, and Caterpillar presents no evidence to suggest that clearing paper jams from the high-speed scanner is somehow different. Nor does Caterpillar counter Hoffman’s claim that she could use her left arm in a manner similar to a flat hand to hold down the paper as it is being fed into the machine. Therefore, drawing all inferences in favor of Hoffman, we must assume that she is physically capable of running the high- speed scanner.

“Although we acknowledge that several of our cases contain language suggesting that an employee must always make a separate affirmative showing of a materially adverse employment action in all ADA cases, … none of these cases confront the issue of whether an ADA plaintiff alleging denial of job training was also required to present evidence that the denial was adverse. In addition, a close reading of our past employment cases reveals that the cases suggesting that plaintiffs must show an adverse employment action in every case are not dealing with any specifically articulated prohibition, but rather with other “terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.”… We do not require a plaintiff who is alleging discrimination with respect to hiring, discharge, or the other enumerated actions to also show that the action was materially adverse.”

Reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, McDade, J., Kanne, J.


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