Pletten v. Merit Systems Protection Board
A civilian employee of the United States Army claimed that the Army’s failure to provide him with a completely smoke-free work environment violated the federal Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits discrimination against disabled individuals. The court of appeals agreed with the lower court that the employee’s claim failed. The court found that the employee, who is asthmatic, is “handicapped” under the law. However, the court found that the employee was not a “qualified handicapped person” because there was no way for the Army to reasonably accommodate him. The only way to accommodate the employee was to completely ban smoking throughout the establishment. However, army regulations in effect at the time of the lawsuit balanced the interests of smokers and non-smokers. Therefore, the employee’s claims of discrimination and wrongful discharge failed.