Articles Posted in Disability Discrimination

Once upon a time in America, the concept of “lifetime employment” was the norm. The average worker counted on staying with an employer until retirement, at which point he or she could also look forward to a decent pension from his or her employer.

Those days are long gone.

Not only is lifetime employment virtually unheard of these days, but older workers also frequently find themselves among the ranks of the long-term unemployed. At first glance, unemployment statistics appear to indicate that older workers are in a better position than their younger counterparts; however, those statistics deceive.

According to a September 29th article in the Chicago Sun-Times, Sears Holding Corporation has been ordered by a federal judge to pay $6.2 million related to a disability discrimination case that has traversed its way through the courts since 2004. The lawsuit arose after a Sears employee named John Bava discovered that Sears had fired him at the terminus of his workers’ compensation leave. (Bava had worked as a technician for Sears. He injured himself years ago while making repairs at a customer’s house.)

According to a Chicago area EEOC spokesperson, the company failed to “provide Bava with a reasonable accommodation which would have put him back to work and, instead, fired him when his leave expired.” The EEOC also alleged that Sears had mismanaged other employee leave cases, providing little leeway for injured workers to return to work — in direct violation of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Pursuant to the consent decree that Sears approved, the company will overhaul its workers’ compensation policies, train staff to ensure that employees adhere closely to stipulations of the ADA, and keep the EEOC appraised in writing of all company workers’ compensation cases.

Disability discrimination is an insidious type of labor rights violation. When injured workers are terminated illegally and/or denied proper wages, benefits, and opportunities to work, they often lack other ready avenues to bring in income. If you or a family member has been the victim of disability discrimination or retaliation, the firm of Joseph & Kirschenbaum is here to help. Discover how at www.jhllp.com, or dial (212) 688-5640 today to speak with a compassionate member of our team for free (and at no obligation) about your situation.

Attorneys for a Target employee with cerebral palsy have filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against the retailer in response to the company’s decision to reduce the work hours of the claimant.

29-year old Jeremy Schott, who worked at a Target outlet in Santa Ana, California, had a difficult time communicating with fellow employees and customers due to his medical condition. His boss allegedly compelled him to attend meetings regarding his work performance without the assistance of his parents and coach. Anna Park, an attorney for the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the organization bringing the lawsuit, said that Schott’s employers knew of his disability prior to hiring him and acknowledged that he would require special treatment to thrive in the workplace.

The AP reported that the EEOC filed the suit in Los Angeles US District Court on Monday; as of this writing, Target has not publicly commented on the matter. And it’s unclear whether the Minneapolis-centered company will contest the allegations or seek an out of court settlement.

The First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has revived a sex discrimination lawsuit by a Maine woman who claims she was denied a promotion after supervisors found out that she has four children. The lawsuit was filed by Laurie Chadwick, an employee of health insurer Anthem Health Plans of Maine (formerly Wellpoint). According to the Wall Street Journal, court papers say Chadwick had worked for Anthem for nine years, with good reviews, and been promoted once before the incident.

When another promotion became available, Chadwick applied. However, the WSJ wrote, the hiring manager discovered shortly before deciding that Chadwick had four children — an 11-year-old and six-year-old triplets. The promotion went to another candidate, one with less experience and lower scores on performance evaluations. The hiring manager allegedly told Chadwick that “It was nothing you did or didn’t do. It was just that you’re going to school, you have the kids and you just have a lot on your plate right now.” Chadwick filed a gender discrimination lawsuit, which was thrown out by a federal district court in Maine but reinstated by the federal appeals court. Anthem denies that there was any discrimination.

An April 28 story in the Boston Globe says that Chadwick’s case was the first in Maine to raise the issue of sex discrimination when an employer assumes a woman will prioritize family ahead of work. However, the issue of “caregiver discrimination” — employment discrimination against people who are responsible for taking care of a young, elderly or disabled person — is not new. In fact, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new employer guidelines in late April explaining “best practices” for employers whose workers are also caregivers. Those guidelines updated a 2007 document explaining when and how caregiver discrimination may break the law.

On Monday, April 20th, 2009, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit on behalf of a disabled job applicant, alleging that a United States Steel Corporation (USCC) plant in Gary, Indiana rescinded a job contract because of his disability. This alleged act, if proven true, would be in direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

No Settlement Out of Court

Initial attempts to reach a voluntary settlement arrangement outside of court were not successful. As the case of EEOC vs. U.S. Steel heads to District Court in Northern Indiana, legal experts across the country will tune in to gauge whether the matter will hold implications for other disability discrimination cases.

According to a press release from the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission dated March 16, 2009, United Airlines has agreed to pay one of its disabled workers $850,000 to settle a claim of disability discrimination. The employee, Samuel Chetcuti, worked at the United San Francisco terminal. Mr. Chetcuti has epilepsy and, as a result, can only perform light work. However, his condition does not prohibit him from working overtime. Unfortunately for Mr. Chetcuti, his bosses at United prevented him from working overtime – even though doing so was in direct violation of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).

According to the details of the settlement, not only must United pay out to Mr. Chetcuti, but the company also must investigate any other similar disability discrimination charges filed on behalf of its 52,000+ employees.

While at first blush, this violation of the ADA may seem relatively minor and “nitpicky” to the casual observer, it’s important to calculate the costs to workers. Overtime pay for service jobs in the airline industry can add up to a significant income per month; individuals who can physically do overtime work but who are unfairly denied the chance can suffer severe financial hardships for this lack of opportunity.