Articles Posted in disability discrimination

California is considered an at-will employment state. This means that, for the most part, an employer can fire an employee for any reason at any time without regard to the employee’s past or present conduct.  This means that an employer can fire an exemplary employee without even giving a reason.  On the flip side of that coin, an employee can quit at any time for any reason and does not even have to a give a reason.

employment discrimination Riverside However, there are certain limitations to this general rule, meaning that some cases of firing an employee will constitute a wrongful termination.  One of the situations in which an employer may not be able to fire an employee without cause, as discussed in a recent news article from Inquirer.Net, is when the employer and the employee have entered into a contractual relationship that requires good cause to terminate an employee. Continue reading

The Americans With Disabilities Act requires that workers or applicants not be discriminated against on the basis of a disability, so long as the worker is able to perform the essential functions of the job with reasonable modifications. This is not a blanket requirement that companies accept all workers with disabilities. The caveat that workers must be able to perform essential functions is crucial.headset

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit pointed out in a recent opinion, “The reality is there are some jobs that a person with disabilities are simply unable to perform.” That was deemed to be the case for plaintiff in this instance.

According to court records, plaintiff worked for a telecommunications firm in Tennessee at a call center, where her job as a customer service representative involved answering incoming calls and helping customers with billing and technical support problems. In order to answer those calls, plaintiff had to be physically present at her workstation and logged into the computer. She worked eight-hour shifts, and rotated every six months. During these shifts, customer service representatives had to remain at their work stations, except to use the restroom, to take a half-hour lunch and two pre-scheduled 15-minute breaks. There was no requirement for a per-day minimum, but most representatives generally took on 40 to 50 calls per shift.  Continue reading

A man with autism has filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against a fast-food restaurant chain and its parent company, alleging he was denied a job due to his disability.foodservice

The lawsuit, filed in Illinois where the incident occurred, alleges the 25-year-old had recently completed a work-study program at a different restaurant in late 2013. The manager who oversaw his duties reported he worked capably and diligently, but the employment ended when the work-study program had finished. At that point, plaintiff hired a job coach to help him find a full-time job. The following summer, both he and his job coach went to a Chick-Fil-A restaurant and requested an application for employment. At the time, the manager was not available.

Later, the job coach went back to the restaurant and talked to the manager. It was at that time she allegedly informed the job coach that the restaurant was, “Not interested in hiring people with disabilities,” adding that those with challenges such as what plaintiff faced “do not succeed” in their company atmosphere. Continue reading

The nation’s largest chain retailer is facing a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of a former employee with Down syndrome, who had worked for the company for 15 years prior. shoppingcart

Of course, disability discrimination isn’t limited to those who have this diagnosis, but it is one of the more visible conditions. Most people can tell right away when someone has the condition, and it’s often used as a basis to deny employment or refuse advancement opportunities – even in cases where the individual is qualified for the essential functions of the job. In fact, employment discrimination of people with Down syndrome was common until fairly recently. Much of these discriminatory actions are based on misinformation and prejudice.

Down syndrome is a genetic chromosome 21 disorder that causes a wide range of developmental delays and disabilities. Those who have Down syndrome share a distinct facial appearance, and generally all have some level of intellectual disability and developmental delays. They may also suffer from thyroid or heart disease. But again, it is a range. Although some with Down syndrome suffer profound disabilities, others are more than capable to work and live independently. Companies that discriminate against these workers solely on the basis of their condition can face legal consequences, including a court order to pay both compensatory and punitive damages.  Continue reading

Retail giant Wal-Mart has agreed to pay $75,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit that was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after the company allegedly broke federal discrimination laws in its treatment of a worker who had survived cancer.checkout

According to the EEOC, the worker was employed at a store in Illinois. After successfully undergoing treatment for cancer, she suffered some limitations that required accommodation at work. However, the retail company is accused of not extending her those accommodations and further not addressing harassment against her. In order to continue working, plaintiff needed a modified schedule and a chair. Management worked out a modified schedule fora time, but later revoked it without stating why. The store also refused to provide a chair in plaintiff’s work area, explaining she would have to be responsible for hauling the chair over from the furniture department to the area where she worked – a task that was next to impossible given her physical limitations. On top of this, plaintiff endured cruel remarks from a co-worker who went unpunished after calling her names like, “chemo brain” and, “cripple.”

This kind of alleged conduct is a clear violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which strictly bars discrimination against workers based on their disability. Discrimination can include the denial of a reasonable workplace accommodation to the employee. It can also mean subjecting them to a work environment that is hostile. Continue reading

Many companies – particularly those that serve or sell any kind of food or beverages – may have strict policies about when and where employees can consume those goods and how they must pay for them. However, there may be some cases when a physical condition or illness may necessitate a reasonable accommodation that deviates from such policies. This was the case in EEOC v. Dolgen corp, LLC, dba Dollar General Corporation, recently before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.orange juice

The worker in this case was a cashier who was also a diabetic who was insulin-dependent. This condition is also referred to as Type 1 diabetes, and it occurs when the body fails to produce insulin, which is the hormone the body needs to get glucose – the simple sugar used for energy, derived from sugars and starches. A condition called hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar, can arise when the level of glucose in the bloodstream drops below normal. Symptoms can range from being shaky to dizzy to weak or irritable to losing consciousness or having seizures. It can even be deadly if not treated right away.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, plaintiff had previously informed her supervisor that she was a diabetic and asked on several occasions that her supervisor let her keep a sugary drink, such as juice, near the register to help prevent a hypoglycemic episode. Her supervisor would later testify at trial that it was company policy not to allow cashiers to keep any food or drinks near the register, as it did not allow “grazing” by cashiers. However, the company did have a reasonable accommodation policy that could have allowed the worker to keep her drink near the register. Problem was that for whatever reason, the workers at this particular store – including the management – were unaware of this policy.  Continue reading

Disability discrimination against a Wal-Mart employee could have been avoided had management simply agreed to continue to accommodate the worker with a written list of daily tasks. Instead, court records show, managers chose to fire the intellectually disabled worker – even though he’d been employed by the company for 18 years.list

Now, the store has agreed to settle the case by paying $90,000 to its former employee. The settlement was reached with the assistance of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which helped the worker filed the case.

According to the lawsuit, EEOC v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., it was alleged the worker had previously been able to meet the expectations of the company with the help of the store’s long-standing practice of writing out his daily assignments for him. It had been key to allowing him to successfully perform his duties.  Continue reading

National home improvement chain Lowe’s has agreed to pay nearly $9 million to settle a claim of disability discrimination alleged by regional attorneys at the EEOC’s Los Angles District Office.disabledkey

The North Carolina-based chain, which owns some 1,840 stores across the country, reportedly acted unlawfully by firing workers who had been on medical leave.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission‘s news release, the company violated the Americans With Disability Act (ADA) by terminating workers who had been on lengthy medical leave. Those who were fired had absences that exceeded the company’s internal 180- or 240-day maximum allowable leave policy. Continue reading

According to a recent news article from the Los Angeles Times, the owners of a French Bakery operating in Beverly Hills and out of a location in Torrance that is now closed, was just ordered to pay more than $15 million to employees that it allegedly exploited.  These employees (11 in total) are all from the Philippines and were in the United States on work visas.

gaveljanThese workers filed a civil lawsuit in federal district court in California in which they alleged that they were trafficked to the United States and forced to work as both domestic servants for the bakery owners and also at the two bakery locations where they were paid off the books.  Continue reading

A sharply divided California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Eight, issued a decision allowing a plaintiff to proceed with his associational disability discrimination claim against his employer. This was a reversal of the trial court’s opinion in Castro-Ramirez v. Dependable Highways Express Inc., wherein a father alleged he was fired for his need to assist his disabled son. gaveljan

This kind of “association” discrimination is outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which bars discrimination against an employee based on their association or relationship with an individual who has a known disability. The provision in 42 U.S.C. 12112(b)(4) means a company is forbidden from taking adverse action against a worker simply for associating with or having a relationship with someone who is disabled.

Under the ADA, companies are required to give qualified workers with disabilities reasonable accommodations. However, federal courts have held in prior cases (see Tyndall, 4th Cir. 1994, Overly, 6th Cir. 2006) that this association discrimination provision doesn’t mean workers are entitled to employment modifications in order to care for a disabled spouse or child. Continue reading