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Worker With Psychiatric Disability Wrongfully Fired EEOC Discrimination Lawsuit Charges

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For more than twenty years, our Citrus County, Florida wrongful termination attorneys have fought for the rights of Florida employees who have been wrongfully fired. Through their decades of experience representing wrongful termination victims, our Inverness, Florida wrongful termination lawyers know that many employers view employees with a psychiatric disability as liabilities. In far too many cases, employers summarily terminate employees after learning they have a psychiatric disability. In this article, our Citrus County, Florida wrongful termination attorneys explain how a disability discrimination lawsuit recently filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) illustrates that federal employment discrimination law protects employees with a psychiatric disability from discrimination.

Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

On September 29, 2021, the EEOC issued a press release announcing that it has filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against PeopleReady, Inc. (PR) and TrueBlue, Inc. (TrueBlue). On September 29, 2021, the EEOC filed the disability discrimination lawsuit, United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. v. PeopleReady, Inc. and TrueBlue, Inc.,  Case No. 3:21-cv-01098, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The EEOC has filed the disability discrimination lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended by the ADA Amendment Act of 2008, on behalf of a former employee of PR, a woman named K. Jaime (Jaime). The EEOC claims that PR violated the ADA by firing Jaime because of her psychiatric disability.

Wrongful Termination Victims’ Rights

The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of disability. An employee has a disability within the meaning of the ADA when the employee has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits his or her ability to perform a major life activity. The EEOC’s regulations set forth examples of mental impairments that “should easily be concluded” to constitute a mental or psychiatric disability under the ADA. The mental impairments identified by the EEOC’s regulations include major depressive disorder; bipolar disorder; post-traumatic stress disorder; obsessive-compulsive disorder; and schizophrenia. When an employee suffers from any such mental impairment, the employee is deemed to have a mental or psychiatric disability under the ADA.

Worker Claims Wrongful Termination

PR is a staffing company with offices throughout the United States. PR is a wholly-owned subsidiary of TrueBlue. In February 2018, PR hired Jaime to work at its office in Virginia as a Market Recruiting Coordinator. The EEOC contends that Jaime has a psychiatric disability within the meaning of the ADA based on having been diagnosed with anxiety and bipolar disorder. These conditions, the EEOC maintains, cause Jaime to experience anxiety and episodes of mania, psychosis, and depression.

On August 29, 2018, Jaime was admitted to the hospital due to a psychiatric illness. The next day, Jaime’s husband notified Jaime’s supervisor, a man named Lewicki, that Jaime was in the hospital and would not be reporting for work. Later that day, Lewicki emailed PR’s Leave Administrative Office stating that Jaime “had a breakdown and was in the hospital for treatment.” When Jaime was discharged from the hospital on September 11, 2018, her doctor submitted a form to PR stating that Jaime could return to work on September 24, 2018 without restrictions.

Supervisor Wants To Fire “Problem Child”

On September 24, 2018, Jaime returned to the office and told Lewicki that she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Shortly after she returned to the office, an Assistant Manager told Jaime that “people in the office are uncomfortable working with you because of your condition.” On November 11, 2018, Jaime was admitted to the hospital for symptoms related to bipolar disorder. She remained at the hospital until November 19, 2018. On November 12, 2018, Jaime’s husband notified Lewicki that Jaime had been admitted to the hospital. Sometime after Jaime was hospitalized for her disability, a PR employee allegedly heard Lewicki make a comment to the effect that Jaime “is going to the loony bin.”

On November 20, 2018, Jaime submitted a request for medical leave from November 12, 2018, until November 29, 2018, because of her disability. On November 26, 2018, PR notified Jaime that her request for a medical leave of absence had been approved. On November 27, 2018, Lewicki sent an email to PR’s Human Resources Partner, a woman named Ritter, asking, “Where do I stand with my problem child? Are we terminating Jaime this week?” On November 29, 2018, Jaime returned to work following the conclusion of her medical leave. On November 29, 2018, PR, without notice, rescinded its approval of Jaime’s medical leave of absence. That same day, PR fired Jaime.

Lawyers For Wrongful Termination Victims

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States government responsible for administering, interpreting, and enforcing federal employment discrimination law. As part of its efforts to eliminate unlawful discriminatory employment practices, the EEOC files lawsuits on behalf of employment discrimination victims, including disability discrimination victims.

In a press release issued on September 29, 2021, regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, Debra M. Lawrence, explained that “it is an employer’s responsibility to know their obligations under the ADA.” In commenting on the case, the Director of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, Mindy E. Weinstein, observed that “regardless of an employee’s visible or invisible disability, employers must comply with federal protections for persons with disabilities.”

Inverness, FL Wrongful Termination Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing workers throughout Central Florida, our Citrus County, Florida wrongful termination attorneys have litigated cases in Florida courts on behalf of wrongful termination victims for more than two decades. If you have been wrongfully terminated or have questions about your employee rights under federal employment discrimination law, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Inverness, Florida wrongful termination lawyers. Our employee rights law firm takes wrongful termination cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.

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