For Immediate Release
An Important Verdict for Victims of Employment Discrimination
Verdict Search Top Florida Employment Law Verdict– Attorney Gina M. Cadogan of Cadogan Law Firm in Plantation successfully defended a district court’s prior ruling before the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, winning an important verdict for victims of employment discrimination. The Court of Appeals upheld a jury verdict that awarded $453,201.01 in back pay, compensatory and punitive damages to a former Spirit Airlines employee who was fired after seeking to return to work (following a qualified leave) with reasonable job accommodations. In a February 2014 federal trial, a jury found that Spirit Airlines’ refusal to reasonably accommodate the employee, or communicate with his attorney despite numerous attempts, violated both the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992. Notably, the jury awarded the maximum amount of punitive damages available to employees victimized by discrimination. Spirit Airlines appealed the decision, but on March 30, 2015, the federal Court of Appeals upheld the verdict.
According to the lawsuit, filed in April 2013, the Plaintiff was a 14-year employee of Spirit Airlines who took a qualified medical leave in 2012. When the employee attempted to return to work, he supplied physician notes indicating that he would require reasonable job accommodations. None of these accommodations would have impeded his ability to successfully and fully perform his management job duties. After receiving no response from Spirit Airlines, the employee’s attorney reached out to Spirit Airlines in writing and telephonically in order to return the employee to work, but was ignored by Spirit Airlines. Spirit Airlines refused to make these accommodations, despite their statutory obligation to do so and instead fired their employee.
“This verdict is significant because it makes clear that employers must actually communicate with their employees and engage in a meaningful interactive process when an employee requests a reasonable job accommodate under both federal and state disability discrimination laws,” said trial attorney Gina Cadogan. “When a valued employee makes all reasonable efforts to return to work and perform his or her job duties with reasonable accommodations, an employer cannot simply ignore them or their representative (legal or otherwise) and terminate them. This practice is unlawful and there is no justification for it. The jury saw this clearly and the Court of Appeals upheld a just verdict.”
Cadogan added, “Suing an employer is daunting to most individuals. However, these cases must be pursued to prevent similar acts of discrimination from recurring. “At Will” termination does not justify unlawful termination. Employers of all sizes need to be put on notice.”