Telecommunications giant AT&T is facing a disability discrimination lawsuit related to a long-term disability situation. This blog has discussed a variety of issues that have arisen in terms of disability discrimination and the requirement under the Americans with Disabilities Act that generally requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled workers. Similarly, this blog has reported issues that can arise under the Family and Medical leave Act.
Fort Lauderdale FMLA claims lawyers know that federal law generally provides that mid-size and larger companies must provide up to 12 weeks unpaid leave for medical reasons to workers who qualify under the law. However, the AT&T worker sought, and received, an extended paid medical leave of absence to seek interferon treatment for Hepatitis C.
The medical leave was not necessarily related to any FMLA claim. The worker notes in her lawsuit, that in the absence of the treatment, her disease could eventually have been fatal.
The worker obtained the finite long-term disability paid leave of absence and remained on that leave from June 24, 2010 to Oct. 24, 2010. In October, her doctor provided to positive any joyous news that the life-saving treatment had been successful. The doctor authorized the worker to return to work with no restrictions.
AT&T decided that the worker's use of the company approved medical leave violated the no-fault attendance policy. Two days after the 16-year AT&T customer service veteran came back from approved medical leave, the company fired hr for violating the attendance policy.
The EEOC says that the firing was done in violation of the reasonable accommodations provision of the ADA. The current disability discrimination lawsuit says that AT&T should have made the approved long-term medical leave exempt from its attendance policy as a reasonable accommodation for the disabled worker to seek life-saving medical treatment.
An EEOC in the district where the lawsuit has been filed says that, "The very essence of reasonable accommodation is making exceptions to hard-and-fast rules in circumstances like this when to do so causes no undue hardship to the employer - and failing to do so might cause grave harm."
Source: EEOC, "EEOC Sues AT&T for Disability Discrimination," Mar. 29, 2012