Can employees be protected under the ADA if they aren’t disabled themselves?
The 6th Circuit recently decided in certain circumstances, yes. Here’s a rundown of the case.
Clashed with school board
Cherryl Kirilenko-Ison was a school nurse for Danville Independent Schools in Kentucky.
She clashed with the school board while voicing her opinion on the best ways to educate and treat two diabetic students.
Kirilenko-Ison and school officials had various disagreements over which activities were appropriate for the students. When the school board failed to extend Kirilenko-Ison’s contract after this incident, she sued, claiming retaliation for engaging in ADA-protected activity.
The school board claimed the decision not to rehire her had nothing to do with her arguments regarding the diabetic students.
A district court dismissed the case, but the 6th Circuit revived it, saying Kirilenko-Ison engaged in “protected activity by challenging the school’s deficient administration of a free appropriate public education.”
This case reminds us of what courts in the past have ruled: Advocating for members of a protected class is a protected activity. This means that retaliation against advocates is prohibited as well.
Cite: Kirilenko-Ison v. Board of Education of Danville Independent Schools, 9/4/20.