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Employee’s Failure to Disclose Ends ADA Claim

Entergy hired Mark Flaherty as a nuclear security officer for its nuclear power station. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) mandates that those officers hold special clearances for the position. One of the  requirements is that the officer a “provide high assurance” of trustworthiness and reliability as well as pass annual assessments of those traits. In 2012, Flaherty filed a claim for disability benefits with the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). In those claims, he listed symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He did not report those conditions in his annual assessments for his job to the NRC. In fact, he denied experiencing those symptoms when directly asked concerning his job.
The VA granted his request. He applied for short-term medical leave with Entergy identifying his symptoms from PTSD but did not disclose his chronic fatigue diagnosis or symptoms. When asked by Entergy to work overtime, Flaherty refused, anticipating that he would be too fatigued. He was suspended and complained on the company’s hotline. In that call, he disclosed the chronic fatigue syndrome. The company responded by placing a hold on his clearance and started to investigate. Finding that Flaherty had declined to disclose his conditions previously, he was found to be untrustworthy and unreliable leading to the loss of his job.
The First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld summary judgment for Entergy. The ADA protects qualified individuals who can perform the essential functions of his/her /their position with or without accommodation. Flaherty conceded that he was required to be assessed each year to be cleared for work and that his failure to disclose his chronic fatigue syndrome could lead the company to conclude that he was untrustworthy and unreliable thus justifying the revocation of his access. As a result, Flaherty was not “qualified” for the position and his claim for discrimination failed.