I just got wind of an order issued by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kyle earlier this week involving a disability discrimination claim against Hibbing Taconite.
The judge has denied the Iron Range mining company’s motion for summary judgment, at least in part. (As a former Iron Ranger myself, the press release from the EEOC immediately caught my attention.)
The lawsuit, filed in March 2009, alleges that Hibbing Taconite discriminated against James Edstrom, who is deaf, when it denied him employment at the mine. The EEOC contends that the company rejected Edstrom, who formerly worked for LTV Mining, because of his hearing impairment, in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Hibbing Taconite sought summary judgment, alleging there were no disputed issues of fact, and that Edstrom was not qualified for the positions for which he applied — which included three in the plant and two in the open pit mine — because of his deafness.
Kyle granted summary judgment as to the jobs in the plant, but found that there was evidence on which a jury could find that Edstrom could have performed the jobs in the open pit mine with a reasonable accommodation.
“The very fact that (Edstrom) successfully worked at the LTV mine pit is strong evidence that a reasonable accommodation could have been possible,” the judge wrote.
Kyle also concluded that a jury could find that Hibbing Taconite had acted in bad faith when it initially reversed its decision to interview Edstrom after it learned that he was deaf.
The case is set for trial in Duluth on July 26.