Ninoshka Matias tested positive for the coronavirus. She asked her employer for leave from work under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Plaintiff Matias told her employer about her positive test. That same day, her employer fired her. The employer said Matias was not a “good fit.” Matias sued for discrimination under the ADA. The employer filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The employer, Terrapin House, said the illness was minor and transitory.
The court rejected the motion. It found the employee had made supportable allegations that she was regarded as disabled. The Department of Health and Human Services has issued medical guidance stating that the covid-19 virus may affect one or more body systems. Therefore, it may be a physical impairment under the ADA. And, certain forms of the virus can “substantially limit major life activity,” including respiratory function, gastrointestinal function and brain function, for periods lasting months after the initial infection. The court also described the phenomenon known as “long covid,” in which can carry longer erm effects of the virus.
Given the close proximity between the day on which she notified her employer and when she was then fired, the plaintiff has stated a viable cause of action, said the court. The employer argued that that Ms. Matias did not suffer any symptoms of the virus. But, the court noted that she said she lost her sense of taste and smell.
See the decision in Matias v. Terrapin House, Inc., No. 5:21-cv-02288 (E.D. Penn. 9/16/2021) here.