Disease Discrimination Exists in the Workplace


Los Angeles, CA A California police officer recently filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles alleging discrimination on the part of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). Malcolm Thomas's California labor lawsuit was augmented by charges that his employer discriminated against an injury he suffered on the job. Instead of making allowances for Thomas's injury, his employer allegedly put him in situations that proved to aggravate the injury.

In May 2008 Thomas injured his knee while on duty with the LAPD. He claimed that his sergeant, rather than extend an expression of sympathy, held the injury against him and required him to undertake activities that worsened his injury. Thomas alleged to have suffered other forms of discrimination in the workplace as well, including racial discrimination.

The plaintiff won a judgment nearing $706,000.

In an unrelated case, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) launched a complaint against DynMcDermott, a privately-held corporation that provides maintenance and operations services for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve managed by the US Department of Energy on behalf of Philip Swafford.

As outlined in a 8/26/10 release by the States New Service, Swafford had applied to DynMcDermott for a position he had previously held with the company. He interviewed and was recommended for the position by both his former supervisor and the manager in charge of hiring for the position. However, the facility's director, who had ultimate authority, stated on at least two occasions that Swafford should not be hired because of his age (56 years) and??"incredibly??"because his wife was suffering from cancer. The director assumed that Mrs. Swafford's condition would interfere with her husband's capacity to perform his job duties.

The EEOC alleged that DynMcDermott's unwillingness to hire Swafford because of his age and his wife's condition violated both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. DynMcDermott ultimately hired a 35-year-old applicant with no prior experience with the company.

In a separate EEOC complaint, the commission alleged that Jeff Rose was unjustly terminated from his job at ENGlobal Engineering Inc. because the company regarded him as disabled. The complaint holds that Rose had worked for the company for two weeks when, without prior warning and unbeknownst to him, he began developing symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Rose quite properly reported the matter to his superiors and kept his managers informed.

However, as the manager learned more about Rose's condition and realized that he faced a potential MS diagnosis, the manager searched for a replacement and urged Rose to take medical leave despite the fact that he could continue working. After taking medical leave at his manager's insistence, Rose presented the company with a doctor's note stating that he had clearance to return to work. Although his position was available, ENGlobal human resources manager falsely told Rose that it was not. Further, although the human resources manager then told Rose that the company would try to find him another position within the company, it took no such action.

Three weeks later, the company hired another individual for Rose's job. It is the EEOC's position, stated States News Service, that ENGlobal's management violated the ADA by incorrectly and impermissibly viewing Rose as substantially limited in his ability to perform the work of any job within the company.

Such violations are unsavory acts of discrimination against individuals who suffer injury or disease through no fault of their own. So long as disease does not impact an individual's ability to perform his or her job, it is unlawful to deny such individuals the opportunity to work.

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