Best Ohio Disability Discrimination Attorney Answer: Am I covered by the ADA? Can my boss refuse to give me a reasonable accommodation? What should I do if I was wrongfully fired for being disabled? How do I find the best Ohio disability discrimination lawyer?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) protects employees from disability discrimination on the job and requires your employer to provide you a reasonable accommodation to assist you in doing your job. You will be considered protected as being disabled under the ADA if one of the following applies to you: (1) you a have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity; (2) you have a history of such a disability; (3) you have an employer that believes that you have such a disability, even if you do not the perceived disability. Additionally, you must satisfy the employer’s stated requirements for the position, which may include education, employment experience, skills, and/or license requirements; and you must be able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation. Once you have meet the above requirements, the ADA mandates that employers make reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of otherwise qualified disabled employees unless it results in undue hardship. An undue hardship means a significant or unreasonable difficulty or expense to the employer. But, even if the employer argues that there is an undue hardship because of cost, the employer must give you the choice of providing the accommodation or paying for the portion of the accommodation that causes the undue hardship.
Let’s take the recent disability discrimination lawsuit against Walgreen Co. as an example. So, Walgreens employed Josefina Hernandez for 18 years as a cashier. Josefina had no history of disciple and was recognized as a good employee. But, Josefina was a diabetic, who had previously reported her Type II Diabetes to her boss. Obviously, Walgreens is subject to the ADA as it has more than 15 employees, and Josefina’s diabetes qualifies as a disability. Clearly, her diabetes did not stop her from doing the essential functions of being a cashier, which she did for 18 years.
So, one day, Josefina is working her job as a cashier when her blood sugar crashes. She needed to eat something quickly during her hypoglycemic attack in order to stabilize her blood sugar level. Thankfully, working at a Walgreens, Josefina had access to a bag of potato chips. Because of the hypoglycemic attack, she ate the chips before paying for them. After the attack passed, Josefina paid the $1.39 for the bag of chips. Although the payment was the same day, it violated Walgreens’ policy of requiring employees to prepay for any food items before eating them. When asked by an investigating Walgreens security office why Josefina violated policy, she wrote: “MY SUGAR LOW. NOT HAVE TIME.” Although, the office testified that he did not understand that the low sugar report had anything to do with her diabetes, this should have clearly put the employer on notice of a disability issue and request for an accommodation.
Clearly, the $1.39 was not a significant or unreasonable difficulty or expense to Walgreens. But it did not even cost Walgreens that much as Josefina paid for the chips, just late.
So, the only accommodation needed was a delay of an hour or so to get a buck thirty nine. Obviously, for a valued 18 year long employee, this would not be a problem. Right? Not, to Walgreens. But, for an 18 year employee with no history of discipline, this should result in a verbal warning or a slap on the wrists, right? Not to Walgreens, who fired Josefina.
Okay, so a investigating security officer and some low level managers did not know that this was a problem, but this was fixed when upper management found out, right? Nope. In fact, Walgreens refused to settle or give Josefina her job back. Then, when the disability discrimination lawsuit was filed, Walgreens fought the case and even moved the court to dismiss the case on a motion for summary judgment. But, U.S. District Judge William Orrick would have nothing to do with that and denied the motion, holding that “Walgreen has failed to allege any misconduct that is unrelated to her disability.” That is pretty damning coming from a judge.
Finally, faced with the reality that they would have to explain to a jury their unreasonable position refusing to give the nominal accommodation of a delayed payment on a bag of chips to a diabetic employee, Walgreens finally settled for $180,000.
Let’s put this into perspective, the average salary for a Walgreens’ cashier is $17,271. So a delayed payment on a $1.39 bag of chips cost Walgreens over a decade of earnings. And, remember that this payment does not include that Josefina now can get her job back … and Walgreens had to pay their own attorney, which probably cost them close to $100,000.
Having to live with a disability is difficult enough without worrying about the effect it may have on your job. 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 866-797-6040. The best option is not to wait. The Spitz Law Firm, and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting disabled employees’ rights under ADA and Ohio employment law.
The materials available at the top of this page and on this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “how do I get a work accommodation for my disability?”, “am I disabled under the ADA?”, “what should I do if…” or “can my boss fired me for …”, 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, attorney, Brian Spitz or any individual attorney.