Chevron vs Echazabal

Topics: Supreme Court of the United States, Occupational safety and health, Employment Pages: 7 (2052 words) Published: March 11, 2013



10th MAY, 2012



Mario Echazabal, worked as an independent contractor at a Chevron oil refinery in California. He applied for a job at Chevron. The company extended an offer to him provided, he take pass the medical examination. However, Echazabal failed the examination because the results showed that his liver was damaged due to Hepatitis C. Chevron feared that continued exposure to the toxins at the plant, may worsen Mr. Echazabal's condition. Hence, it denied employment to Echazabal. Upon Chevron's request to reassign Mr. Echazabal in order to reduce his exposure to harmful toxins, the contractor fired him.

After this, Echazabal filed suit against Chevron. He claimed that the company violated the Americans With Disabilities Act, (ADA) by refusing to hire him due to his liver condition. The ADA is a federal law established in 1991 that prohibits discrimination on the basis of a workers' disabilities. ( Chevron made a counter argument that under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) direct threat defense, an employer can refuse to offer employment to disabled candidates, if the job would pose a threat to the health of the disabled employee. The District Court for the Central District of California granted summary judgment in favor of Chevron. It stated that Echazabal offered no material fact as to whether Chevron acted reasonably or not. However, Echazabal appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals. The Court stated that the obvious reading of the direct threat defense as not including threats to oneself is supported by the definitional section of Title I, which states that “the term ‘direct threat’ means a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by reasonable accommodation''. ( The Circuit Court ruled in favor of Echazabal, stating that the language of the direct threat defense only includes threats posed to others and not to the disabled individual himself. The Court looked at the ADA which explicitly mentions that 'employers may not deny a person an employment opportunity based on paternalistic concerns regarding the person's health'. (


The following are the laws and statutes involved in the case:

1. Americans with Disabilities Act: The ADA gives civil right protections to individuals with disabilities. It gives equal opportunity to disabled individuals' public accommodations, employment, transportation, State and local government services, telecommunications, and it also applies to the United States Congress. The goal of the ADA is to make sure that no qualified person with any type of disability is turned down for a job offer or even promotion.

Relation to the Case: This was the act used by Echazabal to bring a suit against Chevron USA.

2. EEOC's Direct Defenses Threat Statute: This statute is a part of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In the defenses section of the act, it states that an employer may apply as a qualification standard, a requirement than an individual shall not pose a threat to the health and safety of other individuals in the workplace.

Relation to the Case: This statute was used by Chevron, to argue in court. Chevron used the Defenses statute. However the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, stated that according to the defenses statute, the employee should not produce a direct threat to others in the workplace because of his disability. It said that in this case, Chevron should not have fired Echazabal, since his disability, was not a direct threat to others in...
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