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Former teacher claims violation of ADA in discrimination lawsuit

When people are hired for a job, they should reasonably expect to be allowed to do the job they were hired for. This should be true for every employee, including those suffering from a disability. However, a recent story about a former high school teacher serves as an example of how an employer's idea of "budget savings" could lead to a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to the story, the teacher taught French and Spanish at a high school in Ohio and had been doing so since 1976. However, it appears that a budget move by the school district led the teacher to believe that she had been the victim of discrimination, and she has now filed a lawsuit seeking compensation for the loss of potential income.

The problem arose when the school district transferred the teacher from the district's high school to a middle school. For many teachers this probably would not be much of a problem, but for this particular teacher it was. She has stated she suffers from a unique disability - a phobia involving the fear of young children. Her disability was not a problem when she taught at the high school, but the younger children at her newly reassigned middle school post triggered some physical symptoms associated with the phobia, including high blood pressure. The teacher claims that the new assignment's clash with her disability forced her to retire in the middle of a school year.

Her lawsuit claims that the reassignment was a violation of the ADA because her phobia is covered by the employee protections of that law. A judge recently made a ruling allowing the discrimination claims to move forward, and a trial date has been set for February of 2014.

An employee lawsuit filed under the protections of the ADA can be complex, and there are certain steps which must be taken in order. In Colorado, the first step is to file a claim with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Colorado Civil Rights Division within 300 days of the alleged act of discrimination. Once this first step is taken, the employee will be on their way to resolving an act of employer discrimination.

Source: The Tribune-Democrat, "Ohio ex-teacher sues, says she fears young kids," Amanda Lee Myers, Jan. 15, 2013

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