On March 19, 2018, a jury returned a verdict against the U.S. Department of Labor in favor of a federal employee with a vision impairment who worked for the agency for over five years without receiving her requested accommodations. The Agency eventually terminated the employee after she brought forward concerns about the failure to accommodate her disability.
The jury concluded that the DOL violated the employee’s rights under the Rehabilitation Act, which offers the same protections and remedies to federal employees as the Americans with Disabilities Act offers to private sector employees.
Both laws require an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee with a disability and protect against retaliation for asking for such accommodations. The jury specifically rejected the DOL’s contention that it had made a good faith effort to accommodate the employee.
The employee, who was represented by Charlotte Sweeney, Madeline Collison, and Ariel DeFazio, received an award of backpay, damages for emotional distress, reinstatement to her previous position, and attorney fees, among other remedies.