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Jury Awards $21.8 Million in Los Angeles Wrongful Termination Case

A Los Angeles jury has awarded $21.8 million to April Rodriguez, a customer service representative who alleged that she was fired for taking doctor-approved leave for panic attacks. Rodriguez stated in her lawsuit that that she was accused of “abandoning her job.”

According to JuryVerdictAlert.com, the defendants in this case, Valley Vista Services, Inc. and Zerep Management Corp., offered Rodriguez $750,000 before closing arguments. But the jury returned a $21.8 million including compensatory and punitive damages.

According to court documents, April Rodriguez was hired as a customer service representative by Valley Vista Services, a waste disposal company based in the City of Industry. In December 2010, Rodriguez requested a leave of absence and other accommodations because she was suffering from panic attacks. Her doctor placed her on a leave of absence. In January 2011, Rodriguez was terminated allegedly due to “job abandonment.”

Allegations of Wrongful Termination

Rodriguez’s  California wrongful termination lawsuit alleges disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, failure to engage in the interactive process, retaliation and wrongful termination. Rodriguez states that her employer failed to communicate with her and treated her disability claim with skepticism. She also stated in the lawsuit that her employer showed a “pattern of abuse” directed at workers who took time off for disability or medical leave.

Disability Discrimination Laws

Disability discrimination occurs when an employer or other entity covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, treats an employee with a disability unfavorably because he or she has a disability. Such discrimination also occurs when an employer treats a job applicant or employee unfavorably because he or she has a history of disability, such as cancer that is controlled or in remission or because he or she is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is transitory, which means that it is expected to last six months or less. The law also requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability.

Protecting Workers’ Rights

Employees who have been discriminated against or harassed in the workplace or those who have been unfairly terminated, have legal rights. Victims in such cases can seek damages from the employer including loss of income and emotional distress. In addition, the jury may also award punitive damages, which in this case, was sizable. An experienced Los Angeles employment lawyer will help victims in such cases fight for their rights and hold their employers accountable for their wrongdoing.

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