May 24, 2023
Hodges v. Cedar-sinai Medical Center
Plaintiff was fired for refusing to get a flu vaccine despite not having a medically recognized excuse from the vaccination requirement. Plaintiff sued her employer, alleging disability discrimination and related claims under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The trial court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment and plaintiff appealed.
The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that plaintiff failed to offer direct evidence that defendant acted with a “prohibited motive.” The court noted that direct evidence must prove a fact “without inference or presumption” and plaintiff’s claim of a discriminatory motive, without more, is not direct evidence. The court further held that plaintiff failed to rebut defendant’s claim that plaintiff was neither disabled nor able to prove that getting vaccinated posed a risk of developing a disability. A disability under the FEHA, the court held, requires evidence “that the symptoms are sufficiently severe to make a major life activity, such as working, difficult.”