Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 05cv00402).
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ginsburg, Circuit Judge
Before: GINSBURG, TATEL, and BROWN, Circuit Judges.
Floyd E. Lytes sued his former employer, the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority, a/k/a WASA, alleging it refused to accommodate his disability and then terminated his employment, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The district court granted summary judgment to the Authority because it concluded no reasonable jury could find Lytes was disabled when the alleged discrimination occurred. While Lytes's appeal was pending, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 became law. We hold the Amendments do not apply retroactively and, applying the pre-Amendments ADA, affirm the judgment of the district court because, based upon record evidence, no reasonable jury could find Lytes was disabled when he was refused accommodation and discharged.
The pre-Amendments ADA protected a "qualified individual with a disability" from discrimination in the "terms, conditions, and privileges of employment," 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a) (2000), including an employer's refusal to "mak[e] reasonable accommodations" for an individual's disability, id. § 12112(b)(5)(A). As relevant here, an individual was disabled if he had "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limit[ed] [him in] one or more ... major life activities [MLAs]," i.e., was actually disabled, or if he was "regarded as having such an impairment." Id. § 12102(2)(A) & (C).
In May 2000, Lytes, a plant operator, injured his back while at work. He was diagnosed with chronic degenerative disc disease and underwent corrective surgery. Lytes stopped working around December 2000, at which time he began receiving workers' compensation. Two months later he had a heart attack and underwent angioplasty, followed in June 2002 by spinal fusion surgery designed to relieve pain in his back and legs.
A physician who twice examined Lytes at the request of the Authority's workers' compensation insurance carrier disagreed with Lytes's orthopedic surgeon, Dr. James Tozzi, regarding Lytes's physical capabilities. Accordingly, the WASA asked Dr. Tozzi to authorize a functional capacity evaluation (FCE). The FCE was done in February 2003 and indicated Lytes had "mild restricted standing and walking tolerances" and limitations in "squatting, bending, ladder climbing, and overhead reaching." These functional deficits placed Lytes "at the sedentary-light physical demand level with ... a workplace tolerance of 8 hours."
Dr. Tozzi noted progressive improvement in Lytes's condition after the FCE. In September 2003 he upgraded Lytes to light duty with limitations imposed "primarily to avoid recurrent injury" to Lytes's spine. The next day Lytes met with the Authority's risk manager, who told him light duty was unavailable and encouraged him to continue to collect workers' compensation, which he did.
In a December 2003 letter the WASA informed Lytes he was medically disqualified from returning as a plant operator and had 60 days to find a suitable position at the Authority. When Lytes was unable to do so, the WASA terminated his employment in a March 2004 letter. Lytes filed a charge of disability discrimination, which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission dismissed. Thereafter Lytes, who was then represented by counsel, sued the Authority, claiming violations of the ADA, several other statutes, and the WASA's collective bargaining agreement, and requested retrospective relief, including compensatory damages and back pay.
Only Lytes's ADA claim is at issue in this appeal. In the district court the Authority moved for summary judgment on that claim, arguing no reasonable jury could find Lytes was disabled when he was refused accommodation and discharged. Lytes focused his response upon the argument that the Authority's risk manager perceived him to be disabled, but also alleged, without pointing to any evidence in the record, he was actually disabled because of restrictions on bending, "carry[ing] heavy weights," reaching and twisting, and mowing the lawn "for long periods." The district court rejected Lytes's "'perceived disability' theory" and held the work restriction and limitations on household chores could not support a finding that Lytes was actually disabled. See 527 F. Supp. 2d 52, 59--62 (2007).
Lytes appealed pro se. This court appointed Steven H. Goldblatt, Director of the Appellate Litigation Program at Georgetown University Law Center, as amicuscuriaeto support his position, and Lytes filed a letter stating he would rely upon the submissions of the amicus.
On September 25, 2008 the Congress enacted the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAA) in order to "reinstat[e] a broad scope of protection" under the ADA and to "reject" the holdings in Toyota Motor Mfg., Ky. v. Williams, 534 U.S. 184 (2002), and Sutton v. United Air Lines, 527 U.S. 471 (1999). ADAA § 2(b), Pub. L. No. 110-325, 122 Stat. 3553, 3554. The ...