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Sleep apnea disability claim advances

A Roanoke federal court says an IT specialist who fell asleep on the job can sue for disability discrimination on a claim his employer did not accommodate his insomnia and sleep apnea.

U.S. District Judge Samuel G. Wilson refused to dismiss John Leschinskey’s complaint against Radford University, filed after Radford fired the 39-year-old voice engineer who had worked for the university since 2005.

Leschinskey alleged he began medical treatment for his conditions in 2008 and notified his supervisor about his health issues. During the summer of 2008, he received a written warning about falling asleep on the job, and the following summer, the university suspended Leschinskey for two days without pay for sleeping on the job, his suit alleges.

Finally, in October 2010, Leschinskey’s supervisor gave him 48 hours to demonstrate why he should not be fired. Leschinskey completed forms under the Americans with Disabilities Act and submitted a written request asking for reasonable accommodation in the form of a one-hour delay in his start time and use of a doze alert at work. A doze alert signals to the user when he starts to nod off, according to Leschinskey’s lawyer Mark Black, of Roanoke.

Leschinskey “plausibly alleged he is otherwise qualified for the job” under the applicable standard, Wilson said.

Leschinskey’s suit is filed under § 504 the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 “because of the 11th Amendment sovereign immunity problem” with a state university defendant, Black said. Discovery will get underway, now that Wilson has given the plaintiff a green light to proceed in Leschinskey v. Rectors & Visitors of Radford University.
By Deborah Elkins

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