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Disability Discrimination: When An Employer Fires An Employee After Being “Skeptical” About Her Disability.

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2013 | Age Discrimination, Disability Discrimination, Gender Discrimination, LGBTQ Discrimination, Military Status Discrimination, National Origin Discrimination, Pregnancy Discrimination & Maternity Rights, Race Discrimination, Religious Discrimination |

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) protects employees with disabilities from discrimination by the employer, and requires the employer to grant reasonable accommodations.  Employers have the right under the ADA to get medical documentation to confirm the disability.  What happens when an employer disregards its obligations and rights under the ADA

In Rodriguez v. Valley Vista Services, Inc., the jury recently awarded April Rodriguez $21.7 million after she was terminated from her employment with Valley Vista Services, Inc. The jury agreed with Rodriguez’s claim that she was terminated based upon her disability, and more specifically, her employer’s failure to reasonably accommodate her disability.

Indeed, the Rodriguez case closely examined the issue of whether an employer violates state and/or federal disability laws when it counters an employee’s claimed disability with skepticism, fails to grant an accommodation, and then fires the employee. Here, Rodriguez claimed to have suffered from anxiety attacks and requested leave time and other minor accommodations due to her condition. In response, Valley Vista was skeptical as to whether Rodriguez’s “anxiety attacks” constituted a disability or whether she in fact suffered from anxiety attacks at all. Rather than following up with Rodriguez’s doctors or requesting that she provide information showing a need for the accommodation, Valley Vista simply dismissed Rodriguez’s request for an accommodation and then fired her.

Valley Vista tried to defend the termination, arguing that Rodriguez was terminated for performance reasons because she failed to call in to work for three days. However, the jury agreed with Rodriguez and awarded her $5.2 million in compensatory damages. In addition, the jury awarded Rodriguez $16.5 million in punitive damages, determining that Valley Vista acted with malice in wrongfully terminating Rodriguez.

The employment attorneys at Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm handle claims involving disability discrimination and retaliation including claims for wrongful termination and failure to provide reasonable accommodations. If you are or have experienced a problem getting an accommodation from your employer or feel that you may have been retaliated against for requesting an accommodation for an actual or perceived disability, contact Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm for a free consultation.

If you even think that your employment rights have been violated or that you might need an employment lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm is dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.


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