Q: I am a pharmaceutical drug representative who recently underwent chemotherapy. After returning to work, my employer took away many of my important clients and refused to accommodate my disability caused by my health condition. What can I do?
This is a great question this month because October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month which celebrates and takes note of the contributions made by workers with disabilities. Our experienced Disability Discrimination Attorneys at Villanueva and Sanchala are great believers in the idea that individuals who can work, be productive and contribute to our economy should be accommodated. At any point in time, the healthiest individual can be affected by a life altering disability.
Our Disability Discrimination Attorneys have been following a lawsuit that the EEOC recently filed against one the nations largest garment manufacturers, American Apparel, Inc. American Apparel employs over 5,000 people in the U.S., another 5,000 globally and operates over 285 retail stores. The EEOC has alleged that American Apparel fired a disabled garment worker while he was on medical leave for cancer treatment. The worker properly submitted documentation requesting medical leave for chemotherapy, which American Apparel granted. However, after the worker returned to work, the company told him they had no position available for him and terminated his employment.
The EEOC has charged American Apparel with not even examining any options for accommodating the worker and denying his request for reasonable accommodation. The EEOC has alleged that American Apparel illegally fired him because of his disability, in direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”)
The EEOC has stated that “Workers with disabilities cannot be cast off at the first sign of a disability related issue.” On behalf of the worker, the EEOC is seeking back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages and injunctive relief to prevent such future discrimination.
The ADA defines a person with a disability as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more “major life activities,” has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such impairment. The ADA makes it illegal for a private sector employer who employs 15 or more individuals as well as all State and local government employers who discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities in all areas of employment.
About 49.7 million Americans of all ages have a disability according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Of those people, about 18.6 million are employed and contributing to this country’s economy. Having a disability or a perceived disability does not mean that a person cannot effectively do his or her job. You should not be denied your right to employment or reasonable accommodation for your disability because of discriminatory reasons. If you have a disability or a perceived disability and believe that you are being discriminated against or not being reasonably accommodated, call our experienced Disability Discrimination Attorneys at Villanueva and Sanchala to help you protect your workplace rights.
Thank you for visiting our Blog. This blog provides general information and thoughts about various employment law issues primarily in the New York Tri-State area and occasionally in other areas. You are welcome to read the posts. However, do not construe any content on this blog as legal advice or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. Again, we provide the content only for informational purposes. You should not make decisions based information on our blog since the application of the law depends on the facts and each situation may be different. In addition, the law in most jurisdictions is different and changes constantly and we make no representations that any information on our blog has been updated. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from an experienced employment law attorney in your state or jurisdiction.