Carney Shegerian of Shegerian & Associates, Inc., a Santa Monica-based litigation law firm specializing in employee rights, obtained a $1.54 million wrongful termination and disability discrimination jury verdict last week.
The Los Angeles Superior Court jury reached its decision last week regarding Raymond Adame’s lawsuit against Alcoa Fastening Systems, a division of Alcoa, which had employed Adame since 1973.
After more than three decades of exemplary performance, Adame was hit by a falling 50- to 100-pound transformer while working at Alcoa, which severely limited the use of his arms. In his complaint, Adame alleged that after being injured on the job through no fault of his own, and returning from medical leave after being cleared to return to work, he suffered through a series of discriminatory behaviors at the hands of Alcoa, including disability discrimination, failure to accommodate for his disability, failure to engage in interactive process per FEHA, harassment, retaliation, and, ultimately, wrongful termination.
At trial, Shegerian and Adame detailed the series of increasingly discriminatory actions taken by some of Adame’s supervisors. Upon his return to work, he was briefly given a position sorting parts due to no longer being able to lift large objects. He explained to the court how he was told, “You must be a girl since you are doing a girl’s job,” which he found disrespectful. Adame also explained that he was told, “We don’t have to take you back to work because you have disabilities, you have to be 100% healthy to work for Alcoa, that is our corporate policy;” “What are you doing here, I don’t know what they expect me to do with you;” and even “Do not hire an attorney. The company frowns on that.”
Despite registering exemplary performance at various post-injury positions, Adame found himself “let go.” At this time, he said he was told, “We are not offering you anything, you can call your attorney and tell him we are not offering you anything.”
The fact that at least three other positions were open and available and could have been performed by Adame at the time of his termination, yet he was not offered any of these positions, demonstrated that Adame was not offered these positions simply because he is disabled.
As a direct result of the wrongful termination and discriminatory behavior of his former employers, Adame suffered mental distress, anguish and indignation, as well as damage to his career.
With the help of Shegerian & Associates, Adame will now receive compensation for his suffering. The breakdown of the money that will be awarded to Adame includes $208,915 for past lost earnings; $130,572 for future lost earnings; $800,000 for past mental suffering; and $400,000 for future mental suffering, for a total of $1,539,497.
“It’s an honor to have had the opportunity to represent Mr. Adame,” said Shegerian. “He is a hard-working employee who found himself wrongfully terminated and discriminated against at the hands of a company he dedicated 38 years of his life to. Hopefully this verdict and the justice served in Mr. Adame’s case will put all employers on notice that they cannot discriminate against employees who suffer from disabilities.”
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