Americans with Disabilities Act Protects Long Island Workers from Discrimination

Long Island disability discrimination attorneys at Leeds Brown represent workers against employers who wrongfully terminate them and violate their rights to reasonable accommodations. The Americans with Disabilities Act and New York State human rights laws make it unlawful to discriminate against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities.

Long Island ADA attorneys at Leeds Brown focus on the employment discrimination that occurs every day towards people who are otherwise qualified and able to do a great job. We know that employers are obligated to make accommodations and work together with employees to try and make it possible to remain employed despite their disabilities. When they don’t live up to these obligations, it is our job to hold them accountable and obtain compensation and other remedies for our clients.

Are the Side-Effects of Prescription Medications Disabilities Under the ADA?

As leading Long Island disability discrimination attorneys, we stay abreast of the most current cases involving the ADA. We always want to know how courts are interpreting various statutes. For example, there are times when courts must interpret whether or not an accommodation is reasonable or whether an impairment is substantial. In a recent case, one court had to determine whether or not behavior caused by side effects of medication was a protected disability that required a reasonable accommodation.

In 2016, a Chipotle employee sued the restaurant chain in federal court claiming that prescription medications caused her alleged “inebriated” behavior at work. The employee said that for this reason, Chipotle violated the ADA by firing her. A Florida Federal court upheld her termination ruling that it was not disability discrimination under the ADA. Caporicci v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., Case No. 8-14-cv-2131-T-36EAJ (M.D. Fla. May 27, 2016).

The plaintiff Lisa Caporicci worked as a crew member and in April 2013 notified her manager that she suffered from bipolar disorder for which she took medication. She did not share any other information at that time. In May 2013, the plaintiff allegedly began taking a new medication for panic attacks. She requested and received permission to take several days off. Four days after her return, she appeared at work in a seemingly “inebriated” state. According to documents she “was very slow, messed up orders, and was incoherent.”

Her manager removed her from her duties and fired her later in the day. Allegedly, Chipotle fired her for violating its drug and alcohol policy. The policy prohibits employees from reporting for or being at work under the influence of or with any amount of alcohol drugs or controlled substances in their system. The policy requires that an employee who takes prescription medication that may adversely affect their ability to perform their job must notify the manager before beginning work.

In her lawsuit, Caporicci claimed that Chipotle firing her for her medication’s side effects was the same as firing her for her disability, and was, therefore, unlawful discrimination.

Court Upholds Termination

The court did not agree with Caporicci and upheld the legality of her termination. But the court acknowledged that Judges are still somewhat split on the issue of whether a person may be lawfully terminated based on conduct caused by or related to a disability.

The majority believes that the discipline or termination of an employee for workplace misconduct even when the misconduct is a result of the disability, is perfectly legal. Would the outcome have been different if the plaintiff informed her manager of the possible side effects? Would the court have reached a different if she had a physical ailment instead of a mental one?

Contact Long Island Disability Discrimination Attorney

This case illustrates just how complex and unpredictable disability discrimination cases can be. It is important to understand what your rights are and to have an experienced attorney advocating on your behalf and pointing you in the correct direction.

Ensure the best possible outcome by speaking with a Long Island disability discrimination attorney at Leeds Brown today. Call 1-800-585-4658 24/7 for assistance with your disability discrimination claim.

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