Elizabeth Manon used to work for 878 Education, a private college in New York. She is the mother to a child with Reactive Airway Disease, which is an early form of asthma. While Ms. Manon worked for 878 Education, she left work early 54 times, arrived at work late 27 times, and was absent from work 17 times; all because she needed to care for her daughter. The employer stated that she also had performance issues; Ms. Manon claimed that she never was apprised of any performance issues. There was no written documentation.
Ultimately, Ms. Manon was fired after missing another day of work to care for her daughter. The supervisor told her, “I need someone who does not have kids who can be at the front desk at all times.” In the statement that may have hooked the employer’s liability, he said: ”How can you guarantee me that two weeks from now your daughter is not going to be sick again?...So, what is it, your job or your daughter?”
The Americans with Disabilities Act protects employees from discrimination based on a relationship with a disabled person. The purpose of this protection, according to the EEOC, is to “prevent employers from taking adverse actions based on unfounded stereotypes and assumptions about individuals who associate with individuals with disabilities.” 878 Education sought to dismiss the case, arguing that it had non-discriminatory reasons for terminating Ms. Manon. However, the statements made by the supervisor connected the decision to fire with Ms. Manon’s association with her sick child.