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Employment Discrimination

Information on Employment Law:
The Americans with Disabilities Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act

Information on Cases Handled:
Michigan Federal Jury Awards Conrail Crew Dispatcher $420,000 for Violation of Americans with Disabilities Act.

Information on Employment Law

The Americans With Disability Act:
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted into law in 1990. It protects employees at a place of employment with 15 or more employees. The ADA prohibits employment discrimination against a qualified individual with a disability concerning all terms, conditions and privileges of employment. The ADA requires covered employers to make reasonable accommodations for a qualified individual with a disability unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on that employer. Compensatory damages allowable under the ADA include economic loss, emotional pain and suffering, mental anguish, attorney fees and costs of litigation. Punitive damages may also be awarded if the plaintiff demonstrates that the employer engaged in discrimination with malice or with reckless indifference to the plaintiff's rights.

The Family and Medical Leave Act:
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was enacted by Congress and signed into law in 1993. It provides an eligible employee with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period because of a serious health condition, the birth or adoption of a child, or the need to care for a spouse, parent or child who has a serious health condition.

An eligible employee must have worked for the employer for at least one year, worked at least 1,250 hours during the year immediately preceding the start of the leave and worked at a work site where the employer employs at least 50 people within a 75 mile radius.

The law allows for 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave per year, the right to be returned after a qualified leave to the same position or an alternative position with equivalent pay, benefits and working conditions without loss of accrued seniority and the right to have health benefits maintained. If the employer violates the FMLA, an action may be brought within two years of the last event constituting a violation, for wages, salary, and employment benefits lost, or actual monetary loss, and liquidated damages equal to the employees' wages, salary and benefits lost. Finally, any judgment awarded to a plaintiff may include reasonable attorney fees, expert witness fees and costs.

Information on Cases Handled

Michigan Federal Jury Awards Conrail Crew Dispatcher $420,000 for Violation of Americans with Disabilities Act.
Our client worked for Conrail since 1980 in a clerical capacity. After returning from a "psychological disability leave", the employee was placed on a crew dispatcher desk where a fellow employee was assigned to train her. When she asked for assistance, the co-worker screamed at her and belittled her. Later her psychiatrist and psychologist co-wrote a letter to Conrail stating that she suffered from severe depression and that "the added stress from her job was only compounding her problems". The medical professionals requested that our client not work midnights or a swing shift. Conrail then reassigned her to a second shift position, assigned her an inexperienced trainer and gave her only three days to train for the job. On the second day of training, she wrote Conrail requesting she be given 30 days to train in the new position pursuant to her collective bargaining agreement. Our client's supervisor then told her she would be given added time to train; however, the supervisor later instructed her that she would be qualified for the job in two more days, instead of the requested 30 days. She then finished her shift and never returned because of emotional stress. Prior to initiating suit, Conrail refused to offer anything to settle the claim. We filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging psychological disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. After the suit was filed, Conrail offered an unacceptable settlement of $7,500. Brescoll & Brescoll, P.C. tried the case before a jury and obtained a jury verdict of $350,000, including $100,000 in punitive damages, plus attorney's fees and interest. A judgment was entered in the amount of $420,000.