Lawsuit: Employer Cruelly Harassed, Then Fired, Breast Cancer Victim

Jim Garrity has filed a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Education (FDOE), alleging that our client, an employee in the agency’s Office of Student Financial Assistance, was harassed and then fired, after she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a radical double mastectomy.

The case will go to trial before a twelve-person jury next year.

While our client was employed at FDOE, she was promoted several times due to her excellent job performance. Tragically, however, after a routine breast mammogram, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  As a result of this diagnosis and because of two prior annual mammograms with irregular results, she had a bilateral (double) mastectomy.  The surgery removed everything in its path – lymph nodes, muscles, nerves, tissue – without remorse.  Plaintiff’s cancer-related surgeries continued throughout her employment.

After the surgery, she requested modest accommodations, including an adjustment in her work hours so that she could avoid heavy traffic to and from the office. Because of the surgery, she had to relearn certain tasks that required use of her arms, upper torso, neck, shoulders and hands. She could not drive in heavy traffic because of her decreased physical mobility and reflexes.  Despite this terrible ordeal, she could still perform her duties with the accommodations.

According to the allegations in the lawsuit, one supervisor in particular began to purposely bury her in work, and changed her work hours back so that our client would have to once again drive through rush-hour traffic. And, the lawsuit alleges, that supervisor mocked her ordeal, saying, “Don’t use your cancer as a crutch. I won’t tolerate that from you.” Further, our client was assigned tasks that the case alleges were intended to cause her great pain, such as being told to use a hand-operated collating/binding machine to assemble booklets. Significant pressure was required to operate the machinery; it was painful for our client because of her weakened upper torso muscles. The lawsuit alleges that her supervisor walked up behind her while she was being forced to use the device and said, “how do the old chest muscles feel now?”

In due time our client was fired.  The lawsuit alleges that the supervisor and agency engaged in intentional disability related discrimination, and retaliated against our client for speaking out against the discriminatory treatment. They did so by falsely claiming she didn’t do her job, despite the fact she promoted up based on sheer skill and talent.

We are seeking the maximum damages allowed by law.

This kind of case is the reason why our law firm exists, why Jim Garrity tears into employers every day of the week. It’s why we do what we do.  We find, chase down, and punish discriminators and harassers, whose conduct is beyond reckless, who ruin lives.  We get justice, real justice for our clients.

It’s why we’re here, for you.



Categories: Accommodations, ADA Retaliation

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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