The Iowa Supreme Court has ordered a lawsuit back to court to determine if multiple sclerosis is considered a disability under the Iowa Civil Rights Act. John Goodpaster was a customer service manager selling frozen food items for Schwan’s when he started experiencing health issues that at times kept him from driving.
A couple of doctors diagnosed him with multiple sclerosis, and he kept working despite the doctor’s advice that he take time off. The company accommodated him on some occasions, but refused to provide a second driver to take him on his route. He was assigned less profitable routes and eventually fired after his sales dropped off.
Goodpaster sued, but the district court threw out the case saying Goodpaster could not meet the requirements of the job. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled there is some evidence that Schwan’s relied on Goodpaster’s “health issues” in firing him. The ruling orders the case back to district court for further action to determine if multiple sclerosis can be considered a disability that is protected.
Justice Thomas Waterman dissented, saying Goodpaster failed to prove he has a disability, and that he is able to do his job with or without accommodation. He also says:
“The majority fails to explain how Goodpaster could be found disabled when he obtained other employment. Nor does the majority explain why Goodpaster’s requested accommodation—a second driver to retrieve or accompany him on his job driving a delivery truck— is not unreasonable as a matter of law. Employers are not obligated under the ICRA to pay two persons to do the job of one as an accommodation.”
Justice Edward Mansfield joined Waterman in the dissent.
See the full ruling here: Goodpaster ruling PDF