DFEH v. Lucent Technologies, Inc., 642 F.3d 728 (2011)

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and Steven Carauddo alleged Lucent violated the Fair Employment and Housing Act when it terminated Carauddo’s employment as an installer because he could not lift more than 30 pounds due to a back injury. The district court granted summary judgment to Lucent, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Lucent had not violated the FEHA by (1) failing to interact with Carauddo (it was Carauddo’s fault, not Lucent’s, if there was a failure to interact); (2) failing to reasonably accommodate the disability (the installer position required lifting and carrying up to 50 pounds, and Lucent was not required to modify the position or extend the disability period indefinitely); (3) discriminating against Carauddo (there was a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for Lucent’s actions); and (4) failing to prevent discrimination. The Court also affirmed summary judgment of Carauddo’s claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy on the same grounds. Compare Cuiellette v. City of Los Angeles, 194 Cal.App.4th 757 (2011) ($1.57 million judgment upheld in favor of disabled LAPD officer who was able to perform the essential functions of a position into which he had been placed before being terminated).