Many people with disabilities are able to work despite the challenges presented by their illnesses. Unfortunately, however, some employers treat employees with disabilities unfairly and ultimately terminate them because of their conditions or requests for accommodations. Firing a person because of a disability is unlawful, though, and employers that engage in such practices may be held liable for discrimination. Recently, a Florida court set forth an opinion explaining what an employee must prove to establish workplace discrimination in a case in which the employee alleged he was terminated due to a disability. If you believe you were fired for an unlawful reason, you may be able to pursue a discrimination claim, and it is smart to meet with a knowledgeable Florida workplace discrimination lawyer as soon as possible.
The Plaintiff’s Claims
It is alleged that the plaintiff worked for the defendant as a supervisor in a call center. He suffered a neck injury and was prescribed opioids. In 2016, he asked for FMLA leave so that he could participate in a detoxification program to reduce the dosage of his medicines. His leave was granted, and he returned to work without any difficulties. On several occasions after that, he was observed acting unresponsive and groggy, and he fell asleep at his desk multiple times.
Reportedly, the defendant was advised his behavior was unacceptable. He went on FMLA leave again to detoxify and advised that he was hoping to find treatment for his narcolepsy and once again be a valuable team member. He returned to work but was found sleeping again and was subsequently terminated. He then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging disability discrimination in violation of the Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA). Following discovery, the defendant moved for summary judgment.
Proving Disability Discrimination
Claims alleging violations of the FCRA are governed by the same principles as those pursued under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Specifically, to establish a prima facie discrimination claim, a plaintiff must show that he or she is disabled but nonetheless was a qualified individual. In other words, that he or she could perform the essential functions of the job either with or without accommodations. Finally, the plaintiff must prove that he or she was discriminated against due to a disability.
Discrimination includes not only subjecting the employee to disparate treatment because of the disability but also refusing to provide the employee with reasonable accommodations. In the subject case, the court found that the defendant validly demonstrated that the plaintiff was not a qualified individual, in that he could not perform the essential functions of the job, even with an accommodation. Thus, the court granted the defendant’s motion.
Consult a Skillful Florida Attorney
People with disabilities have the right to work without fear of adverse treatment, but many employers violate their rights and unjustly discriminate against them. If you were terminated because of a disability, you should speak to an attorney about your potential claims. The skillful Florida workplace discrimination lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. can assess your case and gather the evidence needed to provide you with a strong chance of a good result. You can contact us through our form online or by calling us at 800-283-7442 to schedule a meeting.