The courts are still attempting to determine the boundaries as they are set forth in disability discrimination cases. The EEOC is in place to enforce laws which make it illegal to discriminate against an individual in the workplace based on a disability. The trouble seems to be determining what a “disability” really is. It must be a condition which substantially limits at least one major life activity. Employment law experts can help individuals decipher the guidelines as they are laid out by the ADA. Discrimination of workers based on limiting disabilities is illegal in the workplace. Tayeb Hyderally is an expert at employment law and keeps up on cases which pertain to employment law as it relates to disability discrimination.
EEOC vs. Cottonwood Financial Ltd
The EEOC filed a case against Cottonwood Financial stating that they erroneously terminated store manager Sean Reilly. The company allegedly fired him because they thought he was too disabled to work because he has bipolar disorder. Reilly was under the care of a physician and was actively working to control his disability while attending school and attempting to secure employment. He had been an honor student when he was in high school and had begun attending college in Portland, Oregon while on a scholarship based on academic excellence. While he was in college he was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. His symptoms worsened and he was forced to withdraw from school at which time he returned to Texas and began working at The Cash Store in Cottonwood, Texas.
In 2006, Reilly was hired in the position of an assistant manager but was quickly promoted to store manager. He also received an award for operating the store successfully. In January after receiving the award in November, 2006, Reilly requested a short leave of absence through a heath care representative. The leave was to allow him time to adjust to a new medication used to treat bipolar disorder. According to Reilly, his request was denied and he was subsequently fired in February 2007 shortly after his request for sick leave arose and was denied.
Both the ADA and the WLAD (Washington Law Against Discrimination) make it illegal to fire an employee because of a disability. They also prohibit decisions on the part of employers which are motivated even partially by ill will toward an employee’s perceived or real disability when they request an accommodation for such. The EEOC tried to reach a voluntary settlement through their conciliation process but was unsuccessful. The EEOC filed suit against the company.
The judge found that The Cash Store did indeed break the law by terminating Reilly and he was awarded $6500 in back wages along with $50000 for suffering and emotional pain. The court also issued an injunction which gave The Cash Store three years to train managers and human resource personnel on various laws pertaining to anti-retaliation and anti-discrimination laws. The court ruled that Cottonwood was deficient in following ADA policies and practices. They also stated that their various rationales used to terminate store manager Sean Reilly were simply a pretext for discriminatory practices. The court ruled that the company had terminated him because they felt he was “too disabled” to work because of his condition.
Cases of Discrimination
Laws are in place to protect employees from discriminatory practices in the work place. It is very important to seek the legal advice of an attorney who specializes in employment law. They can disclose whether or not the employer has engaged in discriminatory actions and inform employees or former employees of the appropriate legal actions to be taken.