Directed verdict in favor of dismissed "disabled" employee is upheld on appeal
Edward Stanley Kancik sued his employer, Greenwood Township in Oscoda County, alleging a breach of the Persons With Disabilities Civil Rights Act. Kancik had worked for the Township for 17 years, when he passed out at the Township's Transfer site, fell and cut his head. Weeks later, he suffered another episode while driving a car and struck a tree. His cardiologist approved him returning to work without restrictions, although his driver's license was suspended by the state. The Township Supervisor terminated his employment "due to your inability to drive and unresolved medical problems."
After his discharge, Kancik's doctors identified the cause of the fainting spells as cardiogenic syncope, a condition that is treatable by means of a pacemaker. The pacemaker was installed and Kancik has not fainted since. His lawsuit resulted in a verdict of $52,800.00--almost entirely lost pay. The Township appealed this decision.
The appellate court reviewed Kancik's employment duties at the transfer site and noted that they did not require the ability to drive and did not involve any other activities that would endanger Kancik or a third-person in the event he should faint. The Defendant also justified Kancik's termination with the argument that his lack of a license would cause Kancik to be late for work. The Court noted that an employer cannot, without evidence, justify an adverse employment decision in anticipation of a possible future development. Given Kancik's "close to 100" percent past attendance and his work record over 17 years, combined with the lack of evidence of his medical condition interfering with his performance or attendance, the Court's directed verdict was justified by the evidence.