Sixth Circuit overturns summary disposition against firefighter
In Rorrer v. City of Stow, the Sixth Circuit recently reinstated a firefighter's discrimination claim against his employer. Rorrer lost the vision in one eye but wanted to remain employed. The City argued that it could terminate him because a firefighter must be capable of driving fire vehicles and Rorrer could not drive with "monocular" vision. Rorrer argued that driving vehicles was a minscule component of his duties and that the vision issue was a pretext for terminating his employment.
The trial judge accepted the City's argument and dismissed the claim of disability disrcrimination. The appellate judges reinstated it, pointing out that the City had never adopted the NFPA guidelines which it suggested would preclude Rorrer from driving a firetruck, and that in any event, Rorrer was entitled to put forward his argument that driving vehicles was a "marginal function" in his job.
The Court also removed the trial judge from the case, ruling that the judge's statements demonstrated that allowing him to preside over the case on remand would constitute a compromise of the appearance of justice.