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California company to pay $50K for not accommodating worker's needs

When Los Angeles workers suffer a sudden illness or injury that requires them to take an extended period of time off of work to recover, workers may expect that their employers will be sensitive to their needs and understanding of any requests for time off.

Even if an employer is not thrilled to learn that an employee will be out of the office for an extended period of time, the employer may be obligated to make reasonable accommodations for the ill or injured employee. In California, an employer's failure to accommodate an ill or injured employee may be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Last week, it was announced that a California-based company will pay a former employee $50,000 for violating the employee's rights. The employee had suffered a stroke and her doctor recommended that she take an extended medical leave so that she could properly recover from her stroke before returning to her job. However, the woman's employer fired her when she requested the leave.

The former employee had suffered a stroke in March 2011. After evaluating the woman's condition after her stroke, the woman's doctor recommended that she extend her leave until it was safe for her to return to work. The woman was given a specific date by her doctor of when it would be okay for her to return to work without having to limit any of her activities at work, but when the woman notified her employer of the doctor's recommendation, the woman's employer fired her.

The woman filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after she was fired. The EEOC concluded that the woman's employer had failed to make a reasonable accommodation by denying the employee's request for an extended medical leave. The EEOC argued that the accommodation would not have caused the company to experience undue hardship, yet the employer denied the woman's request anyway, violating her rights under the ADA.

Source: EEOC, "REDC Default Solutions to Pay $50,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit," Feb. 21, 2013

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