Employment law attorneys understand that disability discrimination encompasses both real and imagined disabilities. To be sure, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability, even discrimination because an employer regards a non-disabled employee as disabled. Disability discrimination also violates Ohio law. R.C. § 4112.02 provides that it is an unlawful discriminatory practice: “For any employer, because of the … disability … of any person, to discharge without just cause, to refuse to hire, or otherwise to discriminate against that person with respect to hire, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, or any matter directly or indirectly related to employment.”
In a lawsuit filed June 24, 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged that fast food giant Chipotle Mexican Grill violated the ADA when it fired one of its employees the day after she arrived at work with her arm in a shunt for intravenous treatment of cystic fibrosis.
According to the lawsuit, on March 29, 2012, Amanda Connell arrived at her place of employment, Chipotle’s location in Franklin, Massachusetts, with her arm in a bandage to hold a shunt in place. Connell’s doctors had inserted the shunt in her arm as part of their treatment of Connell’s cystic fibrosis. Two managers noticed the bandage and shunt and asked Connell about it, which is the first no-no. The very next day, on March 30, 2012, the managers terminated Connell. They told Connell that they were terminating her because their review of the store’s video cameras revealed that Connell was the Chipotle employee who was the subject of a recent customer complaint. In its lawsuit, the EEOC countered the managers’ stated reason for terminating Connell by charging that the reason was false because Chipotle’s time records show that Connell was not even working at the date and/or time of the alleged customer complaint against her. Major oops. Attorneys refer to an employer’s false reason for terminating an employee as pre-text. Five-year olds call that, liar-liar pants on fire.
The problem for Chipotle is that it is no stuck with its stated reason for terminating Connell. If it turns out that this stated reason is false (after Connell shows that she is in a protected class of disabled or perceived disabled employees), then Connell wins. Moreover, the lying raises the probability that an employee can get punitive damages and her attorneys’ fees.
The EEOC is seeking monetary relief for Connell, as well as the adoption of strong policies and procedures to remedy and prevent disability discrimination by Chipotle, training on discrimination for its managers and employees, and other relief.
If you are disabled or your employer perceives you as being disabled; and you have been fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, denied wages, or even think that you might need a disability discrimination lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at (216) 291-4744. The best option is not to wait. The Spitz Law Firm and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting disables employees’ rights under ADA and Ohio law.
The materials available at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. It would be best for you to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to disability discrimination questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm or any individual attorney.