Worker with ‘occasional flare-ups’ had a protected disability

An employee who suffered sporadic muscle flare-ups can sue his employer for disability discrimination where the business failed to accommodate his occasional problem, a federal appeals court recently ruled. The worker, a parts manager at an AutoZone store, had a condition that caused intermittent tightening in his back muscles. When the condition flared up, he couldn’t perform simple tasks.

The company fired him after keeping him on involuntary medical leave for more than a year. The worker sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In response, AutoZone argued that he wasn’t “disabled” because his condition only occasionally limited him in his abilities. But the court disagreed, and said a “predictable yet intermittent pattern” of muscle problems could amount to a disability under the federal law.