A library clerk in Huntington Beach, California, who is deaf and has cerebral palsy, is suing the city for lost wages and emotional distress in a wrongful termination suit.

The city has responded to her lawsuit, claiming more than 25 reasons for why they fired her. Their claims include allegations of violence within the workplace and that the woman did not use the correct procedures for reporting any of her allegations of harassment or discrimination. According to the lawsuit, the city fired her in August 2010 because they claim she threw a book, yelled and used inappropriate hand gestures.

The woman, who had been working at the library for 32 years, filed a discrimination complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing in March. She claimed that library management was not willing to accommodate her disabilities, and that she was fired in retaliation for complaining about the library’s lack of willingness to accommodate her.

According to the lawsuit, the library manager who first hired her made sure she was treated fairly. That manager has since retired and the new manager, according to the suit, was not as familiar with the woman’s needs and treated the woman in an unfair and discriminatory manner. These allegations include the manager using accusations of poor work performance as well as allegations of misconduct against the woman.

While this case of alleged wrongful termination moves through the system, workers in California should understand that they have rights, which are in place to help protect employees from a hostile work environment. But these rights mean nothing if those who are victims of discrimination do not use them when abuses arise in the workplace. Consulting with an attorney could be a good first step in holding discriminatory employers accountable for their conduct.

Source: The Orange County Register, “Deaf library clerk sues H.B. alleging wrongful termination,” Sean Greene and Jaimee Lynn Fletcher, Nov. 17, 2011