As recently explained in Stansberry v. Air Wisconsin Air Lines Corp., 651 F.3d 482 (6th Cir. 2011), the rarely litigated association discrimination claim under the ADA has developed a split in the circuits between Den Hartog v. Wasatch Acad., 129 F.3d 1076 (10th Cir. 1997), and Larimer v. Int’l Bus. Machs. Corp., 370 F.3d 698 (7th Cir. 2004), regarding the fourth prong of the prima facie case. See id. at 487. Under the Larimer line of cases, relied upon by the trial court in this matter [R: 747], the final prong of the prima facie case is satisfied if the plaintiff can pigeon hole her claim of discrimination into three distinct categories: (1) expense; (2) disability by association; or (3) distraction. See id. The first category is usually satisfied by showing that the defendant was motivated by rising insurance costs; the second by showing the associate has a contagious or genetically passed disability; the third by showing that although the plaintiff is qualified for her position, the relative’s disability causes her to be inattentive at work at times. See id. The Sixth Circuit declined to take the restrictive view, stating that “the three theories articulated in Larimer are not necessarily an exhaustive list,” and instead adopted the Den Hartog rationale wherein to satisfy the fourth prong of the prima facie case the plaintiff must show “that the disability of the relative was a determining factor” for the adverse action. Id.
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