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Court to Reconsider Kmart ADA Case

December 20, 2001

MIAMI (AP) _ A federal appeals court has agreed to reconsider a split decision reinstating a Tampa lawsuit by a former Kmart Corp. manager suing over benefits under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The case of James Johnson raised two legal questions _ whether former employees can sue under the ADA and whether people can sue when employers offer different levels of benefits for physical and mental disabilities.

Johnson, a longtime manager who quit on his doctor’s advice due to severe depression, challenged Kmart’s system of granting higher disability benefits to physically sick workers compared to those with mental illnesses.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals split 2-1 last month and rejected its own precedent to bring Johnson’s lawsuit back to life.

The decision Wednesday to take the case to the full court was supported by a majority of the 11 judges considering the issue. Reconsideration erases the earlier ruling.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission supports the man suing the giant retailer as a matter of public policy.

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