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Can an Employer Refuse to Rehire Me Due to a Cognitive Disability?

Can an Employer Refuse to Rehire Me Due to a Cognitive Disability?

Disability discrimination is not limited to situations in which an employer simply refuses to hire someone due to a physical or mental impairment. It also includes situations in which existing disabled and non-disabled employees are treated differently. For example, if an employer fires a disabled employee for conduct that did not lead to the dismissal of a similarly situated non-disabled employee, that could support a claim of discrimination.

Judge Sets August Trial Date in Hospital Discrimination Lawsuit

Consider this ongoing federal disability discrimination lawsuit now pending before a federal court in Brooklyn. The plaintiff here is a medical doctor who was fired from her residency. She alleges both disability and sex discrimination, arguing that she was treated differently than male and non-disabled colleagues when the residency program refused to readmit her.

Here are the facts as presented by the plaintiff. The plaintiff suffers from ADHD and related cognitive disabilities. This affects her “reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working,” according to her lawsuit, but did not prevent her from obtaining a medical degree and procuring a residency with the defendant hospital in this case. During the course of her residency, the plaintiff said she requested a number of “reasonable accommodations,” as is her right under the Americans with Disabilities Act, to help her work in spite of her cognitive disability. The plaintiff claims the defendant refused all such accommodations.

Things came to a head after the plaintiff failed to obtain a passing score on her medical licensing exam, which was necessary before she could proceed to the third year of her residency. The plaintiff said she was told that her contract would not be renewed due to her scores. She then asked if she could stay in the program if she took the exam again and passed before the end of the academic year. According to the plaintiff, the supervisor's reply was, “We will see.”

The plaintiff subsequently took a leave of absence–effectively extending the second year of her residency–and later passed her examination. Despite this, the plaintiff said the defendant did not extend her contract. Nor did it allow her to even re-apply to the residency program, even though the plaintiff said “similarly-situated male colleagues” who passed their exams before the end of the academic year “were permitted to remain in the residency program and/or reapply for vacant [third-year] positions.”

As mentioned above, this case remains pending in federal court. On May 23, 2018, the judge overseeing the case largely denied a defense motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Without ruling on the merits of the plaintiff's allegations, the judge said she presented plausible claims for disability and sex discrimination. The judge scheduled a jury trial to begin this coming August.

Contact a New York Disability Discrimination Lawyer Today

Disabled workers are entitled to the same consideration as all other workers when it comes to hiring, firing, and promotion decisions. If your employer has treated you unfairly based on your medical condition, you should speak with a qualified New York employment law attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Law Offices of White, Nisar & Hilferty, LLP, today to learn more about your legal options.

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