Employee Fired for Caring for Disabled Parent Successfully Brings ADA Claim

A recent disability discrimination case evaluated whether an employer can lawfully fire an employee for being too distracted from his job duties while caring for his father. The court determined that it could not, and that the employee could successfully bring a case for “associational” disability discrimination.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from taking adverse actions “because of the known disability of an individual with whom the qualified individual is known to have a relationship or association.” In order to bring a claim for “associational discrimination” the employee must show that he or she is qualified for the job at the time, was subjected to an adverse employment action, that the employer was aware that the employee had a relative or associate with a disability, and that an inference exists that the relative/associate’s disability was a determining factor in the employer’s decision. Further, an employer may not make decisions based on the ‘belie[f] that the [employee] would have to miss work’ in order to take care of a disabled person.

If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered any type of disability discrimination, consulting with an experienced Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer is important to determine your next steps.

In this instance, a sales consultant for Hartford Insurance Company was occasionally late to work due to the demands of caring for his father who had recently suffered a stroke. Despite being an “exempt” employee, he was written up for being late. After arriving 26 minutes late one day, he was terminated.

The court determined that based on the facts of the case, i.e. that he was required to care for his father, that his employer was aware of the father’s disability, and that he asked to change his hours but was denied, that a reasonable inference existed that he was wrongfully terminated because of his father’s disability contrary to the ADA.

For more information about disability discrimination, or if you believe that you have suffered any type of employment discrimination, please contact the top Georgia discrimination lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.