Employee Rights Update: Age/Disability Discrimination and Proper Evidence Collection

A recent federal case involved a nurse who worked at a nursing home and suffered from impaired vision.  After getting terminated, the nurse sued for age and disability discrimination as well as retaliation against the employer since her termination came a few days after she filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claim.  Here, the nurse, age 53, was hired to work the evening shift, but was moved to the day shift after she notified her supervisor that she was having difficulty driving at night.  However, two years later, the nursing home moved the nurse back to day shift.

The EEOC enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) which protects certain employees 40 years of age and older against discrimination based on age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment.    See more info here.

The facility argued that the nurse was discharged because she made an increasing number of mistakes.  In response, the nurse claimed that younger employees were not disciplined for similar errors.  Eventually, the court found that there was sufficient evidence that the nurse suffered from impaired sight, that there were ample facts of other employees not treated the same for their mistakes, and therefore allowed the case to proceed.  It also found that there was a close relation between the time that the employer received notice of the nurse’s EEOC claim and the termination date which came several days after.   We will keep you posted on the proceedings.  Meanwhile, see the following pages and related blogs for similar cases.

Another recent holding in a California appeals court reminded employees that they do not have free reign when it comes to taking company documents on their way out.  This is even if the terminated employee was planning on using those documents to support a lawsuit against the former employer.  In West Hills Research and Development v. Wyles, the former employee argued that he took the financial documents to later prove his case that the company engaged in embezzlement among other illegal activities.  Instead, the court viewed this action as misappropriation of the company’s trade secrets since the documents were confidential and may be used to form a competing business.  Please note that a safe, and legal, way to obtain documents is through Discovery following the filing of a Complaint in lawsuit.

If you believe that you suffered an employment law matter related to your employee rights or know of possible age, disability or other forms of discrimination or retaliation by your employer, prompt action to preserve your rights is vital.  Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options.