Fourth Circuit rules Chapter 13 bankruptcy debtor has standing to sue

In Wilson v. Dollar General Corp., No. 12-1573 (4th Cir. May 17, 2013) (PDF), an employee filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC against his employer, Dollar General Corporation, alleging Dollar General failed to provide a reasonable accommodation for his disability. While the claim was pending, he filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and properly listed his ADA claim as an asset. He then filed suit in district court, and Dollar General moved for summary judgment. The district court ruled that the Chapter 13 bankruptcy did not deprive the employee of standing, but ruled against him on the merits.

In a case of first impression on the bankruptcy standing issue, the Fourth Circuit affirmed, joining five other circuits in ruling that, "unlike a Chapter 7 debtor, a Chapter 13 debtor possesses standing — concurrent with that of the trustee — to maintain a non-bankruptcy cause of action on behalf of the estate."

Regarding the merits, the court ruled that because the employee could not identify a possible reasonable accommodation that could have been discovered during the interactive process that would have allowed him to perform the essential functions of the job, his ADA claim was properly dismissed on summary judgment.