Seely v. Winchester Electronics Corp.
A worker may not be able to prove she suffers a "chronic" disability under the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, if the worker is able to function at work and to perform household chores. In October 2008, the defendant employer, Winchester Electronics Corp., hired the plaintiff, a military veteran who served in Iraq. On November 3, the plaintiff employee informed the defendant that she required surgery. Allegedly, the defendant discharged the plaintiff on November 7, after the plaintiff informed her employer that she required X-rays. The plaintiff sued, alleging that the defendant employer violated the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act. The defendant moved for summary judgment and argued that on November 6 the plaintiff walked out of a training class twice and that the plaintiff's manager was unaware of the plaintiff's November 7 medical appointment when the manager decided to discharge the plaintiff. Connecticut General Statutes §46a-51(15) provides, "'Physically disabled' refers to any individual who has any chronic physical handicap, infirmity or impairment . . . including, but not limited to, epilepsy, deafness or hearing impairment or reliance on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device." To qualify, the plaintiff's disability must be chronic and a physical handicap, infirmity or impairment. The plaintiff testified that she suffers from cysts that sometimes become extremely sore, and that she places warm compresses on them and consumes Tylenol. The plaintiff said that when the pain is excruciating, she visits the doctor. The plaintiff's cysts respond to medical treatment that includes pain relievers, warm compresses and surgery. "[A]lthough long-lasting," wrote the court, "the cysts cannot be considered chronic." The plaintiff is able to function at work and to perform household activities. The plaintiff's cysts, although painful, do not constitute a handicap, infirmity or impairment. The medical record failed to substantiate the extent or type of the plaintiff's pain. The plaintiff employee failed to establish a prima facie case that she qualifies as "physically disabled," as required to prove disability discrimination pursuant to the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act. The court granted the defendant employer's motion for summary judgment.