Stiefel v. Bechtel Corp., 624 F.3d 1240 (2010)

James Richard Stiefel worked for Bechtel as an ironworker at a power plant. Five weeks before he was laid off, Stiefel injured his left hand while on the job. In his lawsuit, Stiefel alleged Bechtel laid him off as part of a “medical reduction in force,” which would result in cost savings to Bechtel under its workers’ compensation plan. Stiefel further alleged that during his employment, Bechtel harassed, discriminated and retaliated against him because of his disability and that it failed to reasonably accommodate his disability. He also claimed he was laid off and not subsequently rehired because of his disability. The district court granted Bechtel’s motion for summary judgment, but the Ninth Circuit reversed as to the pre-termination claims. The Court held that contrary to the lower court’s ruling, Stiefel had not failed to exhaust administrative remedies by not filing a separate complaint with the EEOC because there was a worksharing agreement in effect at the time he filed a complaint with the DFEH. The Court affirmed summary judgment of Stiefel’s post-termination claims on the ground that he failed to take the steps necessary to give Bechtel a chance to rehire him and thereby rejected Stiefel’s argument that attending roll calls at the union hall would have been a “futile gesture.”