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Beware retaliation lawsuit if you act against employee who challenges ADA compliance

by on
in Employment Law,Human Resources

You may not realize that employees can sue for retaliation if they’re punished for taking action to enforce the ADA against another organization. If the employee can show the action led to the punishment, he has a case.

Recent case: Derrick Ross accepted a job with Independent Living Resource, a company that provides help for disabled individuals. A few months later, Ross filed a lawsuit against another entity, Basketball Town, alleging that its facilities were not accessible to those with disabilities and therefore violated the ADA.

The lawsuit got a great deal of press coverage when Basketball Town announced it was closing its facilities because of the litigation cost. When some members of the public found out that Ross worked for Independent Living Resource, they began sending hate e-mails.

Several days later, Ross was fired. The company said finances were the reason. Ross sued Independent Living Resource, alleging retaliation for trying to enforce the ADA.

The court said his case should go to trial. He’ll have to show the reason he was terminated was the lawsuit against Basketball Town. (Ross v. Independent Living Resource of Contra Costa County, No. C08-0085, ND CA, 2010)

Final note: In this case, the timing itself is suspicious. Ross was fired right after the angry e-mails started flooding in. Always consult your attorney before discharging someone under circumstances like this. He or she can make sure you have the documentation you need to support the economic decision.

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