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No Duty to Accommodate Under TDA, Tennessee Court of Appeals Says

No Duty to Accommodate Under TDA, Tennessee Court of Appeals Says

In Hilliard v. Dolgencorp (Tenn. Ct. App. 03/26/2019), the Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for the employer against Hilliard’s claims for disability discrimination under the Tennessee Disability Act (TDA) and workers’ compensation claim retaliatory discharge. Hilliard was a store manager at a Dollar General Store and was injured at work and placed on work restrictions. She stated on an accommodation form that she could not meet the lifting requirements for her position and was placed on FMLA leave. Hilliard filed for workers’ compensation benefits but was deemed to have quit her job when she did not return at the end of her leave. The trial court granted summary judgment against Hilliard’s claims for disability discrimination and retaliatory discharge under state law. The Court of Appeals affirmed as it was undisputed Hilliard was unable to perform the essential functions of her position as store manager due to her medical restrictions. The court observed that unlike the ADA, the TDA does not impose a duty on employers to reasonably accommodate disabled employees. Hilliard’s retaliatory discharge claim also failed because she could not, as a matter of law, show that her claim for workers’ compensation benefits was the true or substantial reason for her discharge,  given her inability to perform the duties of her position.

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