CHEVRON U.S.A., INC. v. ECHAZABAL

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
00-1406
Petitioner 
Chevron U.S.A., Inc.
Respondent 
Echazabal
Opinion 
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
(Department of Justice, argued the cause, as amicus curiae, supporting the petitioner)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
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Facts of the Case 

Beginning in 1972, Mario Echazabal worked for independent contractors at an oil refinery owned by Chevron U.S.A. Inc. When Echazabal applied for a job directly with Chevron, the company's physical examination revealed he had a liver condition, the cause identified as Hepatitis C. Chevron's doctors said that the condition would be exacerbated by continued exposure to toxins at the refinery. In response to Chevron's request that the refinery reassign Echazabal to a job without exposure to toxins or remove him, the contractor employing him laid him off. Echazabal filed suit, claiming that Chevron's action violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Under an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulation that permits the defense that a worker's disability on the job would pose a direct threat to his health, Chevron defended its action. The District Court granted Chevron summary judgment. In reversing, the Court of Appeals found that the regulation exceeded the scope of permissible rulemaking under the ADA.

Question 

Does the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 permit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's regulation that allows the defense that a worker's disability on the job would pose a direct threat to his health?

Conclusion 
Decision: 9 votes for Chevron U.S.A., Inc., 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Yes. In a unanimous opinion delivered by Justice David H. Souter, the Court held that the ADA did not preclude the EEOC's regulation allowing the harm-to- self defense. The Court reasoned that deference applied to the regulation because it made sense of the statutory defense for qualification standards that are job-related and consistent with business necessity. The Court also found that the risk of violating the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) was enough to show that the regulation was permissible. "Although there may be an open question whether an employer would actually be liable under OSHA for hiring an individual who knowingly consented to the particular dangers the job would pose to him, there is no denying that the employer would be asking for trouble: his decision to hire would put Congress's policy in the ADA, a disabled individual's right to operate on equal terms within the workplace, at loggerheads with the competing policy of OSHA, to ensure the safety of 'each and 'every worker," wrote Justice Souter.

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CHEVRON U.S.A., INC. v. ECHAZABAL. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 19 June 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2001/2001_00_1406>.
CHEVRON U.S.A., INC. v. ECHAZABAL, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2001/2001_00_1406 (last visited June 19, 2014).
"CHEVRON U.S.A., INC. v. ECHAZABAL," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed June 19, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2001/2001_00_1406.