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  • Jefferson Adams

    Worker with Celiac Disease Wins Retrial Against Kelly Staffing Firm

    Jefferson Adams
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    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      A terminated worker who sued the Kelly Services staffing company for allegedly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not accommodating her celiac disease, has won a new trial.


    Image: CC--Matt Wade
    Caption: Image: CC--Matt Wade

    08/01/2018 - A federal appeals court has ordered a new trial for a terminated worker who sued a staffing company for allegedly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not accommodating her celiac disease.

    Laurie Peterson suffers from celiac disease, and worked as a staffing supervisor for Troy, Michigan-based Kelly Services Inc. until her termination in January 2014 according to court papers filed in Laurie Peterson v. Kelly Services Inc. Peterson had originally sued Kelly in U.S. District Court in Spokane, Washington, alleging failure to accommodate, discrimination and retaliation under the ADA. 



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    The original court issued a partial summary judgment granting Kelly’s motion on Ms. Peterson’s claims that the company had failed to accommodate her celiac disease and had fired her in retaliation for protected activity, but allowed related charges in the case to proceed. A jury later found that Kelly had not retaliated against Ms. Peterson.

    A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued a unanimous reversal of the district court’s original ruling.  The panel wrote that the district court had “failed to construe the facts in the light most favorable to Peterson as the non-moving party as required on summary judgment.”

    The case originally arose out of Peterson’s work as interim district manager in fall 2013 while Kelly Services was looking for a new district manager. According to the complaint in the case, when the new district manager learned Ms. Peterson had celiac disease, he began treating her differently than other employees, including changing her work schedule. 

    The change in work schedule allegedly caused Ms. Peterson stress and anxiety, which aggravated her celiac-related condition. Ms. Peterson sought to return to her previous 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift. According to the complaint, the district manager told Ms. Peterson to take unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act instead of seeking an accommodation from the company. Peterson and the supervisor were later fired.

    In reversing the lower court and remanding for trial the claims decided on summary judgment, the court found that the district supervisor’s statement “is direct evidence of retaliatory intent.” The ruling added that the supervisor’s declaration “also raises a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Kelly Services engaged in the interactive process in good faith.” Ms. Peterson’s battle against Kelly Services, Inc., has important implications for how companies treat people with celiac disease under the ADA. To find out how the retrial turns out, keep an eye on Celiac.com

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    Please explain "began treating her differently". I don't see a reason they gave for firing her or a reason she thinks she was targeted due to Celiac. A change in schedule? How is that relevant? Incomplete information.

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    I read the link there is no more incite into what accommodations they failed to make, and how she was treated differently.  I think stress can cause some of the celiac symptoms to come up.  There are crazy things going on at my work change in hours, people getting laid off and I have had some celiac like issues from the stress I am sure.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.


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