Supreme Court to Rule on Hepatitis C ADA Case
In a case that "could help clarify what duty an employer has to potential employees with disabilities" under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Supreme Court yesterday agreed to decide whether an oil company improperly refused to hire a man with hepatitis C, the AP/Riverside Press-Enterprise reports. Chevron Corp. in 1995 withdrew its offer to Mario Echazabal to work in the company's El Segundo, Calif., refinery after doctors who examined him said that "exposure to the chemicals at the refinery would speed the deterioration of [his] liver, and that a large exposure from a plant fire or other emergency could kill him." Echazabal sued Chevron in 1997, but a federal judge threw out the case. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling last year, finding that the risk to his health was not sufficient to disqualify him from employment. The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of disabilities and says they must make reasonable accommodations for the disabled. Chevron then appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that Echazabal's medical condition placed him outside the scope of the ADA. Chevron lawyers wrote, "The absurd result in this case, one that will cost workers' lives and force unwilling employers to be complicit in their injuries, is not what Congress had in mind when it enacted the ADA" (AP/Riverside Press-Enterprise, 10/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.