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The basic framework of a claim of employment discrimination under § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Act), 29 U.S.C.S. § 794, is well settled. To prevail on a claim, a plaintiff must establish that (1) she is an individual with a disability within the meaning of the Act, (2) she is otherwise qualified to perform the job in question, (3) she was excluded from the job solely because of her disability, and (4) her employer received federal funding.
Appellee Valley Central School District, a school district, appointed appellant Kathleen Borkowski, a teacher, to serve as a library teacher at two elementary schools. As a result of injuries sustained during a motor vehicle accident several years earlier, the appellant experienced continuing difficulties with memory and concentration. She had difficulty dealing with multiple simultaneous stimuli. The appellant’s appointment was for a probationary term. Appellee denied appellant’s tenure and appellant resigned from the position. Appellant then instituted an action against appellee based on a claim of employment discrimination under § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C.S. § 794. The lower court granted summary judgment in favor of appellee. On review, the court vacated the lower court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings.
Did the trial court err in granting the summary judgment in favor of appellee on the appellant's claim of employment discrimination based on § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C.S. § 794?
The Court held that on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party bears the burden of demonstrating that no genuine issues of material fact exist. All ambiguities are to be resolved and all reasonable inferences drawn in favor of the non-moving party. In this case, the court found the existence of genuine issues of material fact with respect to whether appellant was otherwise qualified for the position of tenured library teacher and whether appellant was denied tenure solely because of her disabilities. Accordingly, the court concluded that the lower court's entry of summary judgment in favor of appellee was in error.