Gergen v. City of Kentwood, et al.

A nonsmoking worker served as a clerk/cashier for the city.  An important part of her job was interacting face-to-face with the public.  Gergen suffers from conditions known as reactive airways disease (RAD), which causes her to suffer itchy and burning eyes, itchy nose, dry and scratchy throat.  Also, RAD causes her throat to close, leading to chest pains.  Her physician wrote to the company, informing her employer that she could no longer work at the customer counters, since encountering people smoking or who had just smoked would trigger her symptoms.  She was terminated from her job; she then brought claims under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), alleging that the company failed to accommodate her under the ADA and illegally discriminated against her. The U.S. District Court ruled that Gergen “has not demonstrated, or even alleged, that her condition burdens her any appreciable portion of the day as a whole or substantially affects her life outside of work.”  Since the Court could not conclude that her condition “substantially limits” her ability to engage in the major life activity of breathing, she is not “disabled” within the meaning of the ADA.  So, the Defendants motion for summary judgment was granted.

2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50166 (U.S.D.C. W.D. Mich. 2010).