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Date: 05-09-2022

Case Style:

Karen Sheilds v. Credit One Bank, N.A., et al.

Case Number: 2:19-CV-00934

Judge: Jennifer A. Dorsey

Court: United States District Court for the District of Nevada (Clark County)

Plaintiff's Attorney: Michael P. Balaban

Defendant's Attorney: David Lawrence, Anthony L. Martin, Amy L. Howard and Dana B. Salmonson

Description: Las Vegas, Nevada employment law lawyer represented Plaintiff, who sued Defendant on Americans With Disabilities Act violation theories.

Karen Shields alleged that her former employer violated
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) by
failing to accommodate her disability and instead
terminating her.

In November 2017, Shields began working in the Human
Resources (“HR”) Department of Defendant Credit One
Bank, N.A. (“Credit One”) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her
formal job title was “HR Generalist I,” and the official job
description for that position listed a variety of basic
“physical requirements” that “must be met by an employee
to successfully perform the essential functions of this job.”
These requirements included the ability to “use hands to
finger, handle, [and] feel,” to “reach with hands and arms,”
and, occasionally, to “lift and/or move up to 2 pounds.” The
job description also stated, however, that “[r]easonable
accommodations may be made to enable individuals with
disabilities to perform the essential functions” of the job.

After a concern arose in January 2018 that Shields might
have bone cancer, she was scheduled for a bone biopsy
surgery, which took place on April 20, 2018. The biopsy
surgery was a significant procedure that required a three-day
hospitalization. In order to obtain the necessary tissue
samples from Shields’s right shoulder and arm, the surgeon
made what the complaint described as a “10 centimeter skin
incision” and created a window “into the bone measuring
one centimeter in width by two centimeters in length.”

Subsequent testing of the samples revealed that “everything
was benign” and that Shields did not have cancer after all.
Nonetheless, given the substantial physical impact of the
biopsy surgery itself, Shields was unable to return to work
for several months. Specifically, her postsurgical injuries
prevented her from, inter alia, fully using her right arm,
shoulder, and hand to lift, pull, push, type, write, tie her
shoes, or use a hair dryer. In order to verify Shields’s
inability to work, her surgeon, Dr. Hillock, completed a copy
of Credit One’s standard “ADA Employee Accommodation
Medical Certification Form.” In completing the form,
Dr. Hillock stated that Shields would be unable to perform
her essential job functions, with or without accommodation,
for two months. In the portion of the form that asked him to
identify the “major life activities” that “are substantially
limited by the medical condition or accompanying
treatment,” Dr. Hillock listed “sleeping, lifting, writing,
pushing, pulling [and] manual tasks.” After submission of
the form, Shields was approved for an unpaid, eight-week
“medical leave of absence as an accommodation under the
ADA.” The leave was unpaid rather than paid because
Shields did not qualify for paid leave under the Family and
Medical Leave Act.

Dr. Hillock initially estimated that Shields would be able
to return to work on June 20, 2018. However, as that date
approached, Shields still lacked full use of her right
shoulder, arm, and hand. Accordingly, on June 18, 2018,
Dr. Hillock prepared a note indicating that Shields was still
unable to return to work. The relevant portion of the note
stated, in its entirety: “Patient has an appointment on 7/10 at
which point a return to work date will be discussed. Unable
to work until appointment.”

Shortly after receiving Dr. Hillock’s note, the assistant
vice president of Credit One’s HR Department called Shields
and asked her to come into the office the next day. Shields
asked “if she was being fired,” and the assistant vice
president said that she was not and that they needed her to
come in to discuss “her healthcare premium.” When Shields
reported to the office, however, she was told that her position
was being eliminated and that she was therefore being
terminated. Her healthcare coverage was consequently
terminated about a week later.

Shields filed a complaint with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), and she received a
“Notice of Right to Sue” on March 5, 2019. See 42 U.S.C.
§ 12117(a) (stating that employment-based claims under
Title I of the ADA are generally subject to the remedies and
procedures set forth in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964); see also 42 U.S.C. § 1981a(a)(2) (stating that, in
addition to the remedies under Title VII, a plaintiff asserting
“unlawful intentional discrimination” in violation of § 102
of the ADA may also recover, subject to certain limitations,
“compensatory and punitive damages”). Shields thereafter
timely filed this action in the district court in June 2019. Her
operative first amended complaint asserts a single cause of
action alleging disability discrimination in violation of § 102
of the ADA. See 42 U.S.C. § 12112. Specifically, the
complaint alleges that, as a reasonable accommodation for
her temporary disability arising from the biopsy surgery,
Credit One “had a continuing duty under the ADA to extend
Shields’[s] medical leave of absence” for the “short”
additional period of time “until she was able to return to her
job.” Instead, Shields alleged, Credit One unlawfully
terminated her. Shields sought, inter alia, back pay,
compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney’s

Outcome: The dismissal of Plaintiffs complaint was reversed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Plaintiff's Experts:

Defendant's Experts:


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