Best Ohio Disability Discrimination Attorney Answer: What laws protect you against disability discrimination on the job? What should I do if my boss is discriminating against me because I’m disabled? How do I get a disability accommodation to help me at work?
As our employment discrimination attorneys have blogged about, all employees are protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA“) and Ohio’s R.C. § 4112.02(A) from being discriminated against or retaliated against by their employers on the basis of their actual or perceived disability. In addition to preventing wrongful termination based on disability discrimination, these laws also prohibit employers from making pre-employment, disability-related inquiries of job applicants. (See Is Alcoholism A Disability Under The ADA? Top Disability Discrimination Attorney Reply; Top Disability Discrimination Lawyer: Is It Disability Discrimination If My Job Will Not Accommodate My Anti-Social Disorder?; Can My Boss Fire Deaf People As A Safety Precaution? I Need A Lawyer!).
Moreover, The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who, either with or without such accommodations, are qualified to “perform the essential functions of the employment position.” (See Top Disability Discrimination Lawyer Reply: How Do I Get A Disability Accommodation At Work?; Top Disability Discrimination Lawyer Reply: Can I Bring A Service Dog To Work As A Disability Accommodation Under The ADA?; Disability Discrimination: Is Late Arrival A Reasonable ADA Accommodation?).
Recently, in Grande v. Saint Claire’s Health System, the Superior Court of New Jersey overturned a lower court’s granting of summary judgment on the plaintiff’s disability discrimination claim after determining that questions of fact remained regarding whether the plaintiff was “qualified” for her job. From 2000 to 2010, Marryanne Grande was employed as a registered nurse for Saint Clare’s Health System, which probably means that she was qualified to do that job. During her employment Marryanne progressed through various job without any significant issues. Between 2007 and 2010, Marryanne suffered three work related injuries, two to her shoulder which required surgery, and one to her cervical spine. After the last injury, Marryanne returned to work on light duty on June 14, 2010, but was unable to physically handle the tasks assigned to her for her entire shift. As a result, Marryanne took medical leave from April 27, 2010 through July 20, 2010. On June 17, 2010, Marryanne’s doctor wrote a note allowing her to return to work for sedentary duty beginning on June 25, 2010 and for full active duty on July 9, 2010. But after some physical issues, on July 21, 2010, her doctor sent Marryanne back to work with restricts. But, when Marryanne showed up for work, she was fired because her boss said there were “specific restrictions which defendant was unable to accommodate.” Despite the parties disagreeing and pointing to different documents regarding what the job’s physical requirements actually were, “the motion judge held defendant was entitled to terminate plaintiff’s employment because, due to her physical limitations, the record showed she could not perform the core responsibilities of her job as a nurse without creating a substantial risk of serious injury to herself, her patients, or fellow employees.”
Specifically, the Court noted the lower court’s findings:
The Law Division granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice. Applying the analytical paradigm established by the United States Supreme Court in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S. Ct. 1817, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668 (1973), the motion judge found plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case for employment discrimination because she was unable to perform her duties as a nurse to meet defendant’s legitimate expectations. The judge also found defendant had satisfied its burden to provide a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for plaintiff’s discharge.
Despite the lower court’s opinion, the Superior Court reversed and remanded the case after Grande brought the following assignments of error on appeal:
Plaintiff now appeals arguing the Law Division: (1) misapplied the Court’s holding in Jansen [v. Food Circus Supermarkets, Inc.], ; (2) allowed inadmissible hearsay evidence to influence its decision in defendant’s favor; and (3) contravened the standards governing the adjudication of motions for summary judgment by making factual findings that were not supported by an undisputed factual record.
Upon review, the Superior Court reversed largely based on the fact that the record contained disputed facts, facts that could only be determined by a jury, not a court. Specifically, the Court held:
After reviewing the record and applying the relevant standards, we reverse. The record developed by the parties contains a number of key material facts in dispute that can only be resolved by a jury. In granting summary judgment in defendant’s favor, the motion court incorrectly resolved these materially disputed facts in favor of defendant and rejected or minimized the importance of evidence a rational jury could find to support plaintiff’s case of unlawful discrimination due to her perceived physical disability. Based on the record before us, defendant did not indisputably establish, within a reasonable degree of certainty, that plaintiff cannot perform the core duties of her job as a nurse without posing a serious threat of injury to herself, or to the health and safety of her patients or fellow employees.
Moreover, as the specific issue of whether Plaintiff was “qualified” for her job, again, the Superior Court noted that differing opinions were present in the record and that once the court determines that there are disputed facts, the analysis should end and summary judgment should be denied:
She has presented evidence, in the form of a certificate from her treating physician, that she is fully capable of discharging her duties and performing her job in the same manner and under the same conditions she accepted and abided by during her ten-year tenure as defendant’s employee. Defendant has presented evidence, in the form of a performance evaluation report, which allegedly refutes plaintiff’s claims. A rational jury is capable of discerning the probative value of this evidence and, guided by the relevant legal principles, reach an ultimate verdict on the matter.
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. Call our Ohio employment law attorneys at 866-797-6040. The best option is not to wait. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting disabled employees’ rights under ADA and Ohio employment law.
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