Disabled Employee Accuses University Employer of Discrimination

Last year, Americans celebrated the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Prior to 1990, individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities, as well as mental health conditions, were often openly discriminated against by employers and with regard to the infrastructure of both private and public buildings and schools.

Since 1990, the U.S. has come a long way in terms of protecting and promoting the rights of disabled individuals. However, a recent lawsuit filed against Purdue University proves that some employers still actively and openly discriminate against disabled employees.

The lawsuit was filed by an accomplished and esteemed 25-year employee veteran who, after suffering complications during a surgery, became a paraplegic. Due to her new and disabling condition, the woman was informed by her employer’s disability benefits coordinator that she was “eligible for long-term disability leave from May 2013 to May 2015.”

While undergoing intensive rehabilitation, the woman kept in contact with her employer and informed her supervisor of minor modifications that may need to be made to her place of work to “make it more accessible.” She was told by the building’s manager that such changes would not be a problem.

In May of 2014 the woman informed her boss of her plans to return to work soon, almost a full year ahead of her long-term disability ending. Shortly thereafter, the woman’s boss called to inform her that “unless we have a firm date in the near future, we will need to terminate your position.” The next day, a letter arrived informing her that she was terminated. The woman filed an employment discrimination lawsuit last month, charging that Purdue University violated provisions of the ADA which requires that employers accommodate disabled workers.

Source: Indy Star, “Lawsuit: Purdue discriminated against disabled employee,” Kristine Guerra, April 10, 2016

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