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Tag Archives: disability discrimination

Texas Hospital Invites Employment Litigation on Multiple Fronts

Hospital CEO says Fat Nurses Need Not Apply

I found the following article about a Texas hospital whose personnel policies will keep it in court for a very long time.  First, the hospital invited litigation from its Indian employees because the CEO wrote a memo stating:

I feel a sense of disgust but am more concerned with what this means to the future of the hospital as more of our Middle-Eastern-born physicians demand leadership roles and demand influence.

It will change the entire complexion of the hospital and create a level of fear among our employees.

I hope this is a case where the CEO is failing to listen to his HR people and legal team.  I hate to see this as a case where his staff members gave him the green light to institute such a poorly reasoned memo.  CEOs, you need to listen to your legal staff and HR department.

Now, the hospital CEO is trying to invite claims of disability discrimination or even gender discrimination because of his declaration of war on overweight nurses. The CEO actually banned job applicants from being overweight.   If his issue is the ability of the applicant to perform his/her duties, then an individualized inquiry is necessary.  If he is concerned about patient perception, then he is inviting many problems for the hospital.  For more details check out:  Fat Nurses Need Not Apply.

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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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More Problems With Americans With Disabilities Act for Starbucks

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Tomorrow I have a meeting with a friend of mine at Starbucks.  From the things that I have recently seen in the news, I wonder whether we should meet at a different location.  For the second time in the last year, Starbucks is in the news for discriminating against a potential employee, allegedly, based on discrimination.  Last summer, Starbucks settled a case against a dwarf who filed a lawsuit against Starbucks for discriminating against her in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.   The lady told Starbucks that she could perform the duties of a barista by standing on a stool, but after a day or two of work, Starbucks released her from employment.  Starbucks settled this case for $75,000.

Today, I read the story of a new case filed against Starbucks by a man who has only one arm.  He argued that he only needs one arm to perform the barista duties.  After a Starbucks employee made some jokes about the one arm, Starbucks decided not to hire the man.  Like the dwarf case, I anticipate that Starbucks will settle.  Under the ADA, employers have an obligation to engage in an interactive process with employees or potential employees to determine whether the employee can perform the essential functions of the position, with or without reasonable accommodations.  Instead of engaging in the interactive process, Starbucks summarily dismissed the thought of employing this man, and now they are looking at a costly lawsuit.

I certainly am not a Starbucks addict, but I am the last person whom you would expect to protest an organization.  So, I will keep my Starbucks appointment for tomorrow, as well as continue to meet with friends and business associates at their stores.  Who knows, I may run in to a disabled job seeker in need of an attorney.  For questions regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act or discrimination law in general, do not hesitate to call Rich Bradford at (813) 413-2402.

For an excellent discussion of the Starbucks cases, be sure to check out:  Starbucks Served Venti-Sized Discrimination Lawsuit

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What are the chances of Starbucks hiring the Graske?

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Does Bipolar Employee Have Claim For Disability Discrimination

Michael Muzyka worked for Regions Bank as a “Personal Banker.”  During his employment at Regions, Muzyka received performance bonuses.  Muzyka also was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  His condition caused him to be confused, made it difficult for him to concentrate and experienced difficulty sleeping.

Muzyka’s psychologist provided a list of accommodations to help alleviate the stress associated with Muzyka’s position.  These accommodations included flexibility with deadlines, reducing his workload, and recognizing that despite his normal high levels of performance he could have periods of “average performance.”  Regions rejected Muzyka’s requests for accommodations.

During his tenure at Regions, Muzyka had different supervisors.  Muzyka’s last supervisor indicated that he had performance problems and placed Muzyka on a performance improvement plan.  Regions then terminated Muzyka’s employment.

Muzyka brought a lawsuit against Regions under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Florida Civil Rights Act (“FCRA”).  TheADAis a civil rights law that, among other things, protects employees from discrimination based on their disability.  To prove his case, Muzyka had to show (1) that he is disabled; (2) that he was a qualified individual with a disability; and (3) he was subjected to unlawful discrimination because of his disability.

Regions sought to have the Court dispose of the case by filing a motion for summary judgment.  In many civil cases, especially employment cases, summary judgment is critical. When an employer moves for summary judgment, it is telling the judge that on the plaintiff’s best day, his evidence is insufficient to present to the jury.  If the employer wins on summary judgment, the case is over and there will be no trial.  If the employee is able to prevail on summary judgment, he/she gains leverage over the employer.  At this point, the employee’s attorney is in a position to demand a nice settlement for his client.

In this case, Regions claimed that Muzyka was not qualified for the position because of poor performance.  Judge Virginia Covington noted that Muzyka presented evidence that he met his goals and received bonus payments.  Therefore, she denied Regions motion for summary judgment concluding that there were “genuine issue of material fact concerning whether Muzyka was able to perform the essential functions of his job.”

It looks like Regions will have to open up the check book right about now.  Muzyka was terminated a little bit more than two years ago, so he will be looking at that amount in back pay.  Depending on his ability to obtain employment elsewhere, Regions could also be responsible for front pay.   Additionally, theADAand FCRA provides monetary damages for emotional pain and suffering.  Muzyka suffered from a mental condition that no doubt was exacerbated by his treatment by his supervisor.   Regions probably would not want to try this case because on top of all that, Muzyka was fired in December, right before the holidays.  Unless all your “i’s’” are dotted and “t’s” crossed, you would not want to fire someone before the holidays.  As a side note, Regions fired Muzyka after he complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, giving him a meritorious retaliation claim.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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