Unfair and unlawful discrimination at work can come in many forms. Racial, religious, sexual and disability discrimination are just some of the types that can come up when a Minnesota worker is mistreated in the workplace. In some cases, more than one type of employment discrimination can come up at the same time.
Recently, a firefighter sued her former employer because, she said, the fire department terminated her because she broke her foot. After the firefighter broke her heel in an accident that was not work-related, she asked to be reassigned to less strenuous duties. An administrator refused her request and she was fired.
The firefighter filed a lawsuit against her city on the basis of disability discrimination, but the court threw out that claim. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers from firing a worker on the basis of a disability if the disability does not prevent the worker from performing the essential functions of the job. However, the judge in this case threw out the woman's disability discrimination claim, saying that the broken foot really did prevent her from performing the essential functions of firefighting.
However, the woman also had a claim for sexual discrimination. She was able to show that the same administrator acted very differently when a male firefighter requested schedule changes as he was fighting pancreatitis. In his case, the administrator cut the man's hours so that he would not run out of leave time and assigned him to lighter duties.
In the current case, the judge recognized that the city appeared to have treated the firefighter differently because of her sex. She still must show that her termination was related to her disability, and the litigation continues.
There are even more ways to make a claim of employment discrimination than there are types of discrimination. It's important for Minnesota workers to stand up when they are being mistreated, and it's important for them to get help understanding their legal rights.
Source: Journal Star, "Judge: Female firefighter from York treated differently," Aug. 15, 2013