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The Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.S. § 12113(b)'s direct threat defense applies to cases where the direct threat came from relatives or associates of the employee as well as to those cases where the direct threat came from the employee himself or herself.
Plaintiff teacher, who was not disabled, was discharged by defendant school because his adult son, who suffered from bipolar affective disorder, attacked and threatened several members of the school community. Inter alia, plaintiff filed an action against defendant and its headmaster, alleging violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C.S. §§ 12101 to 12117. The trial court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment on the ADA claim and plaintiff appealed.
By discharging plaintiff because of his bipolar adult son who attacked members of the school community, did the defendant school violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants on plaintiff's ADA claim. The court held that bipolar disorder was a disability within the meaning of the ADA. However, the court held that the ADA allowed an employer to discipline or discharge a non-disabled employee with a disabled relative or associate, if such relative or associate's disability posed a direct threat to the employer's workplace. The court held that there was no genuine dispute of fact on the record that plaintiff's son posed a direct threat to defendants' workplace.