Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Echazabal, 536 U.S. 73, 4 (2002)

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Opinion of the Court

Justice Souter delivered the opinion of the Court.

A regulation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission authorizes refusal to hire an individual because his performance on the job would endanger his own health, owing to a disability. The question in this case is whether the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 104 Stat. 328, 42 U. S. C. 12101 et seq. (1994 ed. and Supp. V), permits the regulation.1 We hold that it does.


Beginning in 1972, respondent Mario Echazabal worked for independent contractors at an oil refinery owned by petitioner Chevron U. S. A. Inc. Twice he applied for a job directly with Chevron, which offered to hire him if he could pass the company's physical examination. See 42 U. S. C. 12112(d)(3) (1994 ed.). Each time, the exam showed liver abnormality or damage, the cause eventually being identified as Hepatitis C, which Chevron's doctors said would be aggravated by continued exposure to toxins at Chevron's refinery. In each instance, the company withdrew the offer, and the second time it asked the contractor employing Echazabal either to reassign him to a job without exposure to harmful chemicals or to remove him from the refinery altogether. The contractor laid him off in early 1996.

Echazabal filed suit, ultimately removed to federal court, claiming, among other things, that Chevron violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA or Act) in refusing to

1 We do not consider the further issue passed upon by the Ninth Circuit, which held that the respondent is a " 'qualified individual' " who "can perform the essential functions of the employment position," 42 U. S. C. 12111(8) (1994 ed.). 226 F. 3d 1063, 1072 (2000). That issue will only resurface if the Circuit concludes that the decision of respondent's employer to exclude him was not based on the sort of individualized medical enquiry required by the regulation, an issue on which the District Court granted summary judgment for petitioner and which we leave to the Ninth Circuit for initial appellate consideration if warranted.

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