Sometimes, employees who think they have been discriminated against—and their attorneys—try novel approaches to make a claim. One of these is the so-called disability-plus claim.
It works like this: The attorney tries to show that the employer discriminated against his disabled client by treating her worse than other disabled employees of another sex or race. For example, the claim might be that disabled males got light-duty assignments while similarly situated disabled females did not.
As the following case shows, disability-plus discrimination claims won’t always fly in Texas.
Recent case: Belinda Grosskopf sued the U.S. Postal Service, claiming that she was disabled by a lifting restriction. Her condition meant she couldn’t lift anything heavy or work more than five days in a row. She claimed that other employees with different combinations of protected categories (e.g., black females with disabilities) were treated more favorably.
But the magistrate judge recommended nixing her claim, concluding, “No single statute protects a person from a combination of discrimination based on gender, race and disability.” Employees and their lawyers can’t slice and dice employment information to compare, say, black disabled men to white disabled women. (Grosskopf v. Potter, No. SA-05-CA-0836, WD TX, 2007)