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Teacher fired after surgery, sues for employment discrimination

A teacher who has taught in the South Washington County School District for more than 30 years is filing a lawsuit after what he claims is wrongful termination. The teacher missed a significant amount of work while recovering from a surgery and subsequent medical condition and was fired. The teacher, who also served as a coach and assistant principal in the district over the years, is now suing for employment discrimination.

The teacher's leaves of absence started in March 2009 after he required knee surgery. His condition worsened after an injury in November of that year and he required more time off. He had to undergo another surgery in August 2010. The teacher was then diagnosed with depression two months later and was on medical leave from late February through most of June 2011.

The principal of the school requested that the teacher come in on March 2, 2011 -- while he was on leave -- to discuss his performance. The teacher could not attend due to his condition but was able to obtain the necessary sick-leave paperwork. In April 2011, the teacher was asked to return his keys to the district. He received a notice of proposed discharge on June 17 and was officially let go in December.

The lawsuit states that the district was in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The district claims that the teacher was fired because he could no longer carry out the duties of his current title as assistant principal, and alleges that he did not follow proper procedures for taking time off work and did not return to work after his Family and Medical Leave Act leave ended.

Disability discrimination is just one of many types of employment discrimination. In order to be protected from disability discrimination, one must be considered disabled. Once disability is determined, an employer must make reasonable accommodations to allow the person to perform his or her duties to a certain degree.

Source: KSTP Eyewitness News, "Former Teacher Sues District 833, Alleges Discrimination," Jennie Olsen, Sept. 12, 2012

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