Zimmerman v. Department of Corrections

After the plaintiff was hired as a corrections officer, he developed an increasing allergic reaction to secondhand smoke.  Although the defendant had a policy that banned smoking in the housing units where plaintiff worked, he maintained that the policy was not enforced and that he suffered such a severe reaction to the smoke that he was disabled under the Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act (PWDCRA) because it interfered with the major life activity of breathing.  He also contended that his disability was unrelated to his ability to function as a corrections officer because breathing secondhand smoke is not a prerequisite for his position.  Defendant filed a motion for summary disposition; after a hearing, the trial court denied the motion, concluding that it was a question of fact whether the plaintiff was improperly discriminated against.

The Court of Appeals of Michigan affirmed the denial of the defendant’s motion, ruling that the “fact plaintiff could otherwise care for himself and perform various physical activities does not necessarily render him outside the protection of the PWDCRA.”

2002 Mich.App. LEXIS 1419 (2002).