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EEOC Files Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against North Carolina Law Firm

February 25th, 2013

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against a Winston-Salem law firm for dismissing an employee battling breast cancer.  The suit alleges that the firm refused to provide reasonable accommodation for the female employer and fired her because of her condition.  Chronic illnesses such as cancer can be considered disabilities, and individuals who are suffering from them are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

The ADA protects employees and applicants experiencing any physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities. Disability discrimination occurs when an employer denies a qualified applicant or employee the protections mandated by local, state, and federal laws at all stages of employment.  An employer must provide reasonable accommodation to any applicant or employee who is capable of performing the necessary functions of the job, regardless of what mental or physical determent they might have.

EEOC Alleges Law Firm Fired an Employee Because of Cancer-Related Disability

The plaintiff worked as a support services assistant, performing copying, scanning and other copy room duties.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2008, and she underwent surgery in August 2008 to remove part of her lymph nodes.  In November of 2009, she began suffering from lymphedema, a condition caused by damage to the lymphatic system.  The condition affects a patient’s immune and circulatory systems, which the ADA considers “major life activities” because they are vital bodily functions.  Lymphedema also caused the plaintiff to experience swelling in her shoulder, neck, arm, thumb, and finger, and impaired her ability to lift.

After her condition worsened in June 2010, the plaintiff provided the law firm with a note from her doctor saying that she could not lift more than 10 pounds, but that she was capable of performing other job functions.  In January of 2011, the law firm’s human resources director expressed concern that the plaintiff was not able to fulfill her necessary responsibilities because of the lifting restriction, and that her position required her to lift up to 75 pounds and push or pull machinery up to 700 pounds on wheels.  The plaintiff’s doctor revised the restriction in February 2011, allowing her to lift up to 20 pounds; she was told that either the restriction would have to be lifted altogether or she could not continue in her current position.  The plaintiff was placed on disability leave on February 10th, 2011, and her job was terminated on August 9th, 2011.

The ADA guarantees the rights of disabled employees and applicants to a safe and accommodating workplace, and prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals in regards to hiring, firing, job training, advancement, or compensation.  Reasonable accommodation may include modifying existing facilities, job restructuring, modifying work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, and attaining or modifying equipment or devices to assist in performing the necessary job functions.  The EEOC claims that the defendant-law firm violated the ADA by refusing to accommodate the plaintiff’s disability and subsequently firing her because of it.  After unsuccessfully attempting to reach a settlement through mediation, the EEOC filed the disability discrimination lawsuit on January 16th, 2013.

Philadelphia Disability Discrimination Attorneys at Sidney L. Gold & Associates Stand Up For Disabled Employees

The EEOC is working diligently to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities and enforce the standards set by the ADA.  Still, many qualified applicants and employees are subjected to unfair treatment and dismissal because of a mental or physical impairment.  If you have been a victim of workplace discrimination because of a disability or perceived disability, you may have the right to compensation.

The New Jersey and Pennsylvania employment discrimination law firm of Sidney L. Gold & Associates has long advocated for the fair treatment of workers, regardless of race, gender, age, religion, or disability.  If you have experienced disability discrimination or any other type of workplace discrimination, call us today to speak with a knowledgeable, experienced employment  attorney.  We will review the evidence in your case and advise you on how to proceed to get the compensation you deserve. The workplace discrimination lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates have offices in Philadelphia and serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Call us today at 215569-1999 or contact us online.

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