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Disabled Los Angeles County worker reaches settlement in lawsuit

In 2007, a criminal court bailiff in Los Angeles County was put on patrol duties by the Sheriff's Department even though the department knew that the employee suffered from physical disabilities. The woman could not perform some of her patrol tasks because she had suffered herniated discs in her lower back. She also suffered from nerve damage and had torn her Achilles tendon.

After developing these injuries and receiving orders from her doctor to avoid some of her physically demanding work tasks, the woman asked her employer to accommodate her new disabilities in the workplace. In California, employers must attempt to make accommodations in the workplace for employees who suffer from disabilities or other health problems. But when the woman asked her employer to relieve her of some of her physically demanding job duties, the county refused her request.

The woman continued to perform the work tasks she had been ordered by her doctor to avoid, and in 2008, the Los Angeles County employee suffered more damage to her body. This time, she became "totally disabled." After becoming disabled and determining that her employer had violated state and federal labor and employment laws by denying her request to limit some of her tasks as a result of her disability, the woman took legal action and filed a discrimination lawsuit against her employer.

This week, it was reported that the worker finally received justice for her employer's wrongdoing. The county agreed to settle the disabled worker's lawsuit.

Failing to address a disabled worker's needs in the workplace and firing an employee because he or she is disabled are forms of disability discrimination. This type of discrimination in the workplace is illegal. Just because a worker's illness or injury might prevent one from being able to do some job duties, a disabling condition does not necessarily mean that a worker must give up his or her career.

Source: NBC Southern California, "$1.25M Settlement Reached in Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against LA County," Caroline Tan, July 17, 2012

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