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County worker receives settlement for disability discrimination

The Americans with Disabilities Act is designed to protect disabled workers in Wisconsin and across the nation. When an employer violates that act by failing to provide reasonable accommodation or wrongfully terminating a disabled worker, it may be grounds for a disability discrimination suit. A former county worker in another state sued for just that reason, and the county government recently agreed to a settlement in his case.

The 71-year-old man worked for the Department of Public Works. In 2011, he fell and broke his hip while he was at work. He recovered within the time he had available for his sick leave. However, he alleges that the county forced him to retire instead of allowing him to come back to work, which is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. An attorney for the county argued that the worker could not safely resume the duties he once performed prior to breaking his hip.

The county agreed to rehire the worker as a shop clerk for $45,600 per year. In addition, he will receive approximately $143,000 to cover pension adjustments, back pay, damages and legal fees. The county reached a settlement on three similar lawsuits earlier this year and settled a federal lawsuit last year that was based on a history of disability discrimination.

While this worker is now allowed to go back to a job and earn a living, many in Wisconsin and elsewhere continue to be affected by disability discrimination. Individuals in this situation may wish to speak to someone who is knowledgeable about employment law and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Disabled employees who are capable of working have the right to do so, and employers must make reasonable accommodation to assist them. If this does not happen, a disabled worker may wish to take action, not only for him or herself, but to prevent others from having to face such discrimination in the future.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Balto. Co. settles another disability discrimination lawsuit," Alison Knezevich, Aug. 7, 2013

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