Case of osteoarthritis

Gretillat worked in food service at a nursing home. Her duties stated that she would, at times, have to cover every aspect of operations. At times she might have to stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl as part of needed physical movements. After 10 years, she began to suffer pain from osteoarthritis in her right knee, which made it hard to walk much. Her supervisor told her she would no longer have to make rounds at the home to reduce her walking. Three years later she had knee replacement surgery.
After the surgery, she reported a lot of pain from standing for long periods. She said she could not squat, kneel, crouch, crawl, or stand for long times. Her manager told her she could resign or be terminated since she could no longer do physical acts needed for the job. She resigned and sued for disability discrimination for failure to accommodate her disability. The district court held for the nursing home. Gretillat appealed.

1. The appeals court affirmed that Gretillat’s physical impairments did not rise to the level of a disability, so she had no case. Although she was “impaired,” why was she not considered “disabled”?
2. Suppose Gretillat’s condition was severe enough to be a disability. What would the employer have needed to do then?

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