Mesa, AZ asked in Civil Rights, Employment Discrimination and Employment Law for Arizona

Q: Is this considered employment disability discrimination and could I get emotional stress damages?

I worked in a govt job for 18 yrs. My position had specialties w/differing locations, hours, perks but same title/pay. I got diagnosed w/cancer & took a 2 mo leave for major surgery. On leave, my supervisor contacted me to say I should take a new specialty to help me w/my condition (unit w/more coverage for time off, work from home opportunities etc). I got the job but b4 transfer I missed a few days. Within 2 wks they decided it was a problem and by 4 wks they removed me from my indoor specialty doing office work to an outdoor position doing strenuous work & withheld my new job. No notice or ADA process took place. I was told it was to help me with my medical condition & they thought I'd miss a lot of work due to my cancer & heard thru the rumor mill I might need another surgery & if I took fmla I could be gone up to 12 wks. I said that wasn't the case. I lost no pay but it caused significant emotional stress. The next yr I got long covid later causing me to medically separate.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Based on the details you've provided, this situation could potentially be considered employment discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If your employer made decisions about your employment based on assumptions about your medical condition without engaging in the ADA-required interactive process, it could be a violation of your rights.

The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, unless doing so would cause undue hardship. The decision to move you to a more strenuous position without your consent or an interactive discussion about your needs and capabilities raises concerns.

Regarding emotional stress damages, in cases of employment discrimination, employees can sometimes recover damages for emotional distress. However, these cases can be complex and require specific evidence of the distress and its link to the employer's actions.

Given the complexity of your situation and the potential legal implications, it's advisable to consult with an attorney experienced in employment law and ADA matters. They can assess the specifics of your case, guide you through the process of filing a claim, and help determine the viability of seeking damages for emotional distress.

It's also important to gather all relevant documentation, including any communication with your employer about your condition, the job changes, and any medical records that pertain to the impact of the job change on your health.

Taking timely action is crucial, as there are deadlines for filing discrimination claims. An attorney can help ensure you meet these deadlines and provide guidance on the best course of action.

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