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Judge Narrows Retailer’s Defenses in Long COVID EEOC Suit


In a significant legal development, a Colorado federal judge has sharply curtailed the defenses available to Appliance Factory Outlet Inc. in an ongoing lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The case centers around the alleged wrongful termination of Karima Javanzad, a sales representative who sought extended leave due to long COVID symptoms.

Lawsuit Background

The EEOC alleges that Appliance Factory Outlet, owned by A&A Appliance Inc., violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by terminating Javanzad after she requested additional time off to manage her long COVID health issues. This case highlights the growing importance of understanding and accommodating long COVID in the workplace.

Defenses Struck Down

Initially, the retailer presented 35 affirmative defenses. However, U.S. District Judge Daniel D. Domenico struck down several of these defenses, ruling them as boilerplate, redundant, or inappropriate since they addressed the merits of the case rather than constituting true affirmative defenses. This decision aligns with a recommendation by U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hegarty, who pointed out that arguments regarding Javanzad’s disability status and the company’s accommodation efforts were challenges to the core claims rather than proper affirmative defenses.


  • Clarified Legal Standards: This ruling underscores the distinction between affirmative defenses and merit-based arguments in ADA cases.
  • Employer Responsibilities: Employers must meticulously evaluate requests for extended leave and accommodations, especially concerning long COVID, to avoid ADA violations.
  • Litigation Strategy: The decision may reshape how businesses approach their defense strategies in similar lawsuits, ensuring that defenses are substantial and pertinent.

Current Status

The case, titled Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. A&A Appliance Inc., continues in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. With several defenses struck down, attention now turns to the remaining claims and defenses as the lawsuit advances towards trial or potential settlement discussions. The outcome of this case is anticipated to have significant implications for handling disability claims related to long COVID in the workplace.