Submitted: September 27, 2018
from United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Missouri - St. Louis
WOLLMAN, KELLY, and ERICKSON, Circuit Judges.
WOLLMAN, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Denson appeals from the district court's order granting
Steak 'n Shake's motion for summary judgment on his
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) discrimination claim
and his Missouri Workers' Compensation claim. We affirm.
broke his hip in 2010 and underwent total hip replacement
surgery. His surgeon determined that Denson had reached
"maximum medical improvement" in the fall of 2011
and permanently restricted Denson to clerical or sedentary
work, with no lifting. An administrative law judge deemed
Denson disabled in September 2012 and awarded him Social
November 2014, Steak 'n Shake hired Denson as a fountain
operator at its O'Fallon, Missouri, location. The
fountain operator job required employees to stand, bend,
stretch, and walk throughout the shift, as well as to lift
and carry up to thirty pounds. Denson informed Steak 'n
Shake that he suffered back problems and had undergone hip
replacement surgery. In contrast with his permanent medical
restrictions, Denson stated that he could lift approximately
fifteen to thirty pounds.
fell twice at Steak 'n Shake in early 2015. Denson
commenced physical therapy in October 2015 through Steak
'n Shake's workers' compensation program. In
January 2016, David King, M.D., examined Denson and initially
restricted him to: no lifting more than thirty pounds; no
kneeling, squatting, stooping, or climbing; and no walking or
standing for more than forty-five minutes per hour. Dr. King
examined Denson again on February 5, 2016, and concluded that
he had reached "maximum medical improvement." Dr.
King rescinded his former opinion and recommended that Denson
remain on the original surgeon's medical restrictions of
clerical or sedentary work with no lifting. Steak 'n
Shake thereafter removed Denson from the work schedule for a
safety evaluation and later terminated Denson's
subsequently filed a discrimination charge with the Missouri
Commission on Human Rights and the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In the charge questionnaire,
Denson claimed that Steak 'n Shake could have
accommodated his disability by transferring him to "the
host, dishroom, and/or prep person" position, all of
which required periods of standing. The EEOC issued Denson a
right to sue letter. Denson then filed suit in federal
district court, alleging that Steak 'n Shake had
terminated his employment because of his disability in
violation of the ADA and that Steak 'n Shake had
retaliated against him in violation of the Missouri
Workers' Compensation statute. Steak 'n Shake moved
for summary judgment on both claims.
review de novo the grant of summary judgment,
"viewing all evidence and reasonable inferences in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party."
Barstad v. Murray Cty., 420 F.3d 880, 883 (8th Cir.
2005). Summary judgment is appropriate where "there is
no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P.
establish a prima facie case of disability discrimination, a
plaintiff "must show that he (1) has a
'disability' within the meaning of the ADA, (2) is a
'qualified individual' under the ADA, and (3)
'suffered an adverse employment action as a result of the
disability.'" Fenney v. Dakota, Minn. & E.
R.R. Co., 327 F.3d 707, 711 (8th Cir. 2003) (quoting
Duty v. Norton-Alcoa Proppants, 293 F.3d 481, 490
(8th Cir. 2002)). "To be a 'qualified
individual' within the meaning of the ADA, an employee
must '(1) possess the requisite skill, education,
experience, and training for h[is] position, and (2) be able
to perform the essential job functions, with or without
reasonable accommodation.'" Id. at 712
(alteration in original) (quoting Heaser v. Toro
Co., 247 F.3d 826, 830 (8th Cir. 2001)).
failed to show that he was a qualified individual within the
meaning of the ADA. Although he believed that he could
perform the essential job functions of the fountain operator,
Denson's permanent medical restrictions barred him from
performing the duties laid out in the job description, which
he admitted were accurate. We have held that "[t]he ADA
does not require an employer to permit an employee to perform
a job function that the employee's physician has
forbidden" and that an employee's subjective belief
that he or she can perform the essential functions of the job
is irrelevant. Alexander v. Northland Inn, 321 F.3d
723, 727 (8th Cir. 2003). Denson also argued that Steak
'n Shake could have accommodated him by transferring him
to the dish room, prep person, or host position at any Steak
'n Shake location within the St. Louis metropolitan area.
But Denson admitted that these jobs were not sedentary or
clerical when he conceded that these positions required
employees to stand for long periods of time. According to his
medical restrictions, Denson could not perform the essential
functions of these jobs. Denson was thus not a qualified
individual and his prima facie case of discrimination fails.
For the same reasons, a failure-to-accommodate claim would
also fail. See Moses v. Dassault Falcon Jet-Wilmington
Corp., 894 F.3d 911, 921, 924 (8th Cir. 2018)
(concluding that plaintiff's failure-to-accommodate claim
failed when plaintiff could not show he was a qualified