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Case Results

Settlement in Disability Discrimination action

June 2015

DISCLAIMER: The results are specific to the facts and legal circumstances of each of the clients' cases and should not be used to form an expectation that the same results could be obtained for other clients in similar matters without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances of each client's case.

Settlement in Disability Discrimination action

We frequently discuss the relationship between the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and New York state and federal laws governing discrimination based upon disability.  While the laws can in some cases each work in favor of a plaintiff, knowing when to pull back some claims is important.

Here, we represented an individual who suffered a severe on-the-job injury, and was unable to come back after his 12 weeks of FMLA time expired.  Shortly after the expiration of the 12 weeks our client was terminated from his employment, with the employer taking the position that it had permitted him the required leave, and his failure to return at the end of that leave allowed termination.

Our observation, in speaking with the client and reviewing the records, however, was different.  We determined that the employer had failed to engage in the “interactive process”, which is required under the New York State Human Rights Law.  This process requires, generally, that employers and employees discuss what sort of reasonable accomodations may permit an employee to return to work following a disability.  Here, the employer had made no such effort.  In this case we elected not to pursue an FMLA discrimination or retaliation claim, and instead focus on the New York State law disability discrimination claim – the stronger claim.

Shortly after suit was filed the matter was settled for a confidential sum.  The critical point in this case was the fact that the employee, while not protected under the FMLA, arguable had rights under the New York State Human Rights Law.  By ignoring these rights the employer placed itself at risk of an adverse verdict if the case went to trial.

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