Oct. 2011: Madia Law defeats Fortune 100 company’s summary judgment motion; settles case on behalf of disabled facilities worker

by Ashwin Madia, Attorney on October 21, 2011Ashwin Madia, Attorney

“Jill” (name changed for confidentiality) worked at a large corporation for nearly twenty years as a maintenance worker and excelled. However, she injured her back on the job and needed medical attention. Ultimately, her doctor gave her work restrictions stating that she could not lift, push, or pull more than 40 pounds. She continued working at her position, with her restrictions, and continued to excel.

One morning, her employer called her into a meeting and told her that she was terminated because her medical restrictions prevented her from performing the essential functions of her position.

Jill was devastated – she loved her job and it was her only source of income. Jill’s employer failed to make any effort to find reasonable accommodations for her disability.

Madia Law filed a complaint on behalf of Jill alleging disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Minnesota Human Rights Act.  Numerous depositions during discovery demonstrated that Jill’s employer was totally wrong when it told her that her restrictions prevented her from performing her position’s essential functions.  In fact, Jill had performed exceptionally at her job, even with her restrictions, for over a year.  She received multiple commendations from her supervisors during that time as well.

Even if Jill’s restrictions had prevented her from performing the essential functions of her position, the MHRA and ADA mandated that her employer engage in an interactive process with Jill to determine reasonable accommodations (such as tools, job restructuring, or different ways of doing the job) that could be made to enable Jill to continue with her position.  Unfortunately, Jill’s employer engaged in no such process before terminating Jill.  If it had, it would have easily determined that her restrictions had no effect whatsoever on her ability to work.

After nearly a year and a half of litigation, Jill’s employer moved for summary judgment and asked a federal district court judge to dismiss Jill’s case without allowing her a trial.  The judge refused to do so, and ruled that Jill had demonstrated sufficient fact issues to go to a jury.  Specifically, the judge ruled that a jury needed to decide whether Jill was able to perform all essential functions of her position – with or without accommodation, and whether Jill’s employer had engaged in an interactive process with her to determine reasonable accommodations.

Jill’s employer settled shortly thereafter.  Jill moved on with her life and now enjoys a degree of financial security which she never could have imagined.  I was honored to represent Jill, who showed a tremendous amount of courage in persevering for nearly two years against a large and powerful corporation.

Please note that every case is different, with its own unique facts. Just because Jill obtained a certain result in her case does not mean that you will obtain the same result in your case. You should contact Madia Law to discuss your disability discrimination case in detail and get an accurate assessment of its value.

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