We hear stories about discrimination in the workplace all the time. There are many stories of racial discrimination, age discrimination, and sexual harassment. But what happens when the ones who are protecting the rights of the elderly and disabled discriminates against an employee because of their disability?
We will have a chance to see what happens when Cecelia Garrett's lawsuit alleging disability discrimination is concluded. Garrett claims that she was hired for a day shift as an MRA-1 at Pine Ridge Residential care facility by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services ("DADS"), reports The Southeast Texas Record. After being hired, Garrett (who is hearing impaired) found her training postponed for lack of an interpreter. Once her training was complete, Garrett was assigned to the night shift.
Garrett repeatedly requested to be moved to the day shift, according to the Record. Two weeks after Garrett filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), she was fired for allegedly not being suited for her job. As a result, this could be a retaliation claim as well as a discrimination claim.
A disababled person under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") is defined as one who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.
The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee having a disability when making decisions involving hiring, training, promotion, pay, benefits, termination, or any other condition of employment. However, it only applies to companies or organizations with more than 15 employees.
The ADA also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations include restructuring a job, allowing for extra leave time, installing special equipment, or providing an interpreter.
Here, it seems like DADS provided proper accommodation in regards to Garrett's training by supplying an interpreter. It also does not seem to be an issue that Garrett was put on the night shift on the face of it. However, it can be argued that Garrett was put on the night shift to dissuade her from continuing to work at DADS because of the difficulty of accommodating her disability.
Garrett's claim most likely to succeed is that of retaliation. It will require further proof, but as a starting point, it does seem to be too much of a coincidence that she was terminated only two weeks after filing a claim with the EEOC.
Cecelia Garrett only wanted to help people, now she might be able to help people by making new case law that illustrates what type of discriminatory actions are illegal with her lawsuit against DADS.
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