A California jury validated the claims of a 61-year-old former hospital worker, who at the time of trial was unemployed, that her former employer discriminated against her. The case may turn some heads in the Fresno area because it was not based on race, age or gender per se but instead was based on the fact that the woman lost her job after getting hurt at work. The woman, who had worked for the hospital for almost 25 years, hurt herself while trying to move medical equipment.
As she worked in the radiology department, moving equipment for procedures like CT scans and the like was part of her job. After the injury, though, she was medically restricted from lifting more than 15 pounds or from reaching for high objects with her left arm.
What happened after the injury is a matter of some dispute. According to the woman, the hospital did very little to help her return to work and ultimately fired her, saying she could not perform her core job duties. The hospital claimed that they gave her leave, as she was entitled, and also did try to work with her before making the decision to let her go.
Ultimately, the jury agreed with the woman and awarded her $1.03 million dollars, some of which was for the woman’s emotional distress. The woman indicated that the money will likely be quite helpful. Since being out of work, she has had to rely on retirement savings and is in financial hardship. The hospital, on the other hand, has indicated that they are evaluating whether or not to appeal the decision.
This case illustrates that employment discrimination based on a disability or on the fact that worker got hurt doing her job is unacceptable in this state. Victims of this behavior have legal options available to them.