Rhoads v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., et al.

The Plaintiff brought several causes of action against the defendant FDIC, as receiver for her former employer Standard Federal Savings Bank, all of which were triggered by her termination for excessive absences.  She suffered from severe asthma and migraines and alleged that her employer did not protect her from exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke on the job.  The Plaintiff brought claims under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  The Defendant moved for summary judgment on all counts.  The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland granted the Defendants’ motion regarding the claim of failing to make reasonable accommodations under the ADA, retaliation under the ADA, the claim of a violation of the Maryland common-law “duty to provide a safe workplace.”  However, the court concluded that the Plaintiff should be allowed to maintain a FMLA claim, since she is an “eligible employee” within the meaning of the Act.  The trial began on February 23; the jury returned a verdict for the Defendant on March 4, 1998.

On July 12, 2001, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, at 257 F.3d 373, 2001 U.S.App. LEXIS 15588, 16.5 TPLR 2.270, 11 AD Cases 1776, 7 Wage & Hour Cas 2d 129, rejected Rhoads’ contention that she was entitled to judgment as a matter of law — or at least a new trial — on her FMLA claim.  The Court of Appeals also affirmed the district court’s granting of summary judgment for FDIC on two of Rhoads’ ADA claims (failure to make reasonable accommodations and discriminatory termination) because she had failed to show that she is “disabled” under the statute.  As to the third ADA claim alleging retaliation, which “does not require that the claimant be disabled,” the Court noted that the “dispute culminating in this termination came on the heels of Rhoads’s consultation with an attorney and threats of legal action against the bank, in addition to her numerous requests over the years for accommodation of her health conditions.”  Thus, it  vacated the district court’s grant of summary judgment for FDIC and remanded the case for further proceedings.  See Bank Bailout Litigation News, September 17, 2001.

Cert. den. on March 18, 2002, at 2002 U.S. LEXIS 1627.  On December 12, 2002, Ms. Rhoads won a verdict at a bench trial, in which the judge found that the defendants had committed fraud.  Thus, the judge awarded Ms. Rhoads back pay plus interest.

956 F. Supp. 1239, 3 Wage & Hour Cas. 2d 1381, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2328 (D. Md. 1997).