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Brown v. Lucky Stores - 246 F.3d 1182 (9th Cir. 2001)

Rule:

The Americans with Disabilities Act's so-called "safe harbor" provision, 42 U.S.C.S. § 12114(b)(2), extends the Act's protections to an individual participating in a supervised rehabilitation program and no longer engaging in the illegal use of drugs.

Facts:

Plaintiff Karen L. Brown worked for defendant Lucky Stores, Inc. ("Lucky") as a checker. On Nov. 10, 1996, Brown was arrested for, inter alia, drunk driving and possession of methamphetamine. On that same day, on Brown's request, her sister-in-law contacted defendant John Hunt, Brown's manager at Lucky, and told him about the arrest and that Brown would not be able to work that day. Brown was unable to post bail and was incarcerated until Nov. 11. On Nov. 15 she was convicted and ordered to participate in a round-the-clock rehabilitation program on Nov. 16. Thus, Brown missed work on those three days; Lucky terminated her employment pursuant to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Brown filed a lawsuit against defendants in state court under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and the Rehabilitation Act, as well as state law claims, alleging that defendants discriminated against her when they terminated her employment based on her alcoholism. Defendants removed the case to federal district court, which later granted defendants summary judgment as to Brown's federal discrimination claims; the district court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Brown's state law and CBA-contract claims. The district court denied defendants' request for costs. Brown and defendants appealed.

Issue:

Did the trial court err by dismissing Brown's discrimination claims?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the district court's judgment. The court ruled, inter alia, that the ADA's "safe harbor" provision applied only to employees who had refrained from using drugs for a significant period of time, and thus Brown was not entitled to "safe harbor" protection. Brown failed to establish that Lucky received federal funds or was otherwise under executive agency control, so her Rehabilitation Act claim failed. The district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Brown's remaining claims. However, the court ruled, the district court failed to explain why it denied costs to defendants as prevailing parties. The court thus remanded the case to the district court for reconsideration of costs.

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