People with disabilities have specific rights which employers are required to honor. This includes reasonably accommodating a disabled person in their course of employment with the company. However, according to one recently settled disability discrimination lawsuit, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department failed to meet these requirements for one of its employees.
While the case took some three years to reach a conclusion, the employee in the matter was eventually able to gain a $1.25 million settlement.
The original complaint alleged that the Sheriff's Department caused the employee to become completely disabled because they assigned her to tasks that were not within her physical ability. The employee suffered from herniated discs in the lower back, damaged nerves, and a torn Achilles tendon. Due to these ailments she had requested to be excused from assignment to patrol duty.
It's unclear when she initially filed this request, but despite making it, she was placed on patrol duty in 2007 against medical directive. She claims this caused her to become completely disabled while on patrol duty in January 2008.
The complaint claims that if the Sheriff's Department had complied with her request, she would still be working today. Additionally, the complaint alleges that the decision to put her on patrol duty was made without "interactive process." That is, no discussion was undertaken by her supervisors to determine cooperatively what reasonable work accommodations might be appropriate in light of her request and doctor's orders.
While the length of time it has taken to come to this $1.25 million settlement may seem rather long, it's important to consider that such issues can be very complex and require a great deal of negotiation. The thing to remember is its successful resolution.
Source: NBC, "$1.25M Settlement Reached in Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against LA County," Caroline Tan, July 17, 2012