In a recent decision, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of an employee (plaintiff). EEOC v. Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. LLP. For the 5th Circuit to find for a plaintiff employee is very rare. For example, in a study completed a few years ago, the researchers, found that discrimination case plaintiffs were the second least likely to survive on appeal in federal courts. The only plaintiffs who fared worse are prisoner cases, notoriously weak claims.
In discrimination cases on federal appeal, plaintiff employees win 5.8%. Other plaintiffs win 12% of the time. When you compare plaintiff employees to defendant employers, plaintiffs win 4.65% while defendants win 53.85% of the time. The federal courts of appeals are tough on employees, the 5th Circuit is even tougher. The 5th Circuit covers Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.
So, the Chevron decision is all the more remarkable. The 5th Circuit found sleeping to be a major life activity. The employee suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 7 months, long enough to qualify as a disability under the older version of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The fact that Plaintiff said she could work during her outbreak of CFS did not mean she did not suffer from a disability, wrote the court.
A welcome win, but one all too rare…..