Employees in California have the legal right to work in an environment that is free of aggravation, irritation and prejudice. A 56-year-old supervisor fired from a Jack in the Box restaurant in San Fernando Valley brought a lawsuit against her former employer alleging age discrimination and harassment, as reported by My News L.A.
In her complaint, the former team leader alleged that her boss called her “grandma” and mocked her after she suffered an on-the-job injury. To prevent further injuries, she began maneuvering in a manner to protect herself from getting hurt again, but instead, she was micromanaged and reprimanded by her boss. After experiencing a second injury, her employer failed to accommodate her ability to perform the tasks required to complete the job and the belittling by her boss increased.
After working at the Jack in the Box location for 10 years, the employee was fired, and a lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. The restaurant’s attorneys argued that her injury occurred while she was not working and that her employer accommodated her disability. The defense team also claimed that the employee was fired for manipulating the restaurant’s system for providing speedy service. Video image evidence was provided to show the employee asking a customer at the drive-through window to back up and pull the car up again to restart the timer used for monitoring customer service.
The jury did not accept Jack in the Box’s argument and ordered the restaurant to pay the former employee $15.4 million in damages. Jurors found the company guilty of engaging in age and disability discrimination, creating a hostile work environment, harassment, wrongful discharge and retaliation. The jury also found that the restaurant failed to accommodate the employee’s disability after her injury and the company did not prevent her from being harassed by her boss.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers must make a reasonable accommodation to assist an employee who has a physical disability. The ADA National Network provides some examples of how an employer may make reasonable accommodations in the workplace.