It is the largest settlement in the history of the California Senate
In 2016, an employee of the California Senate reported that she was raped by an employee of the California Assembly. She reported the assault to the police, but her alleged rapist was never charged. The California Assembly hired its own lawyers to investigate her allegations. It did not substantiate the charges.
Although the alleged rapist was not charged and the Assembly’s lawyers did not substantiate the claims, the woman was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the alleged rape. She suffered both significant physical and emotional distress as a result of the alleged rape.
The woman asked the California Senate for various accommodations so that she could continue to work. The accommodations included having her parking space moved so that she wouldn’t have to see the man who allegedly raped her, having her alleged rapist barred from the Senate floor, and missing work on occasion. After a period of time, she was fired without warning over a relatively minor performance issue.
The woman believed that her termination was not the result of any deficiency in her performance, but her requests for accommodation. She filed suit against the California Senate, and ultimately settled the case for $350,000. This settlement is more than two times the amount of any previous settlement paid by the Senate.
As an experienced California employment discrimination attorney can explain, the most significant aspect of this case is not that the former employee alleged that she was raped, or that the alleged rapist was never charged. Instead, it was that the employer denied her requests for accommodations, despite knowing that she suffered from a disability (PTSD).
Employers are not entitled to deny reasonable accommodations for a disability because they think that an employee is not disabled enough or because they think that an employee does not have a legitimate need for an accommodation. In this case, it is possible that the California Senate believed that because the rape allegations were not substantiated, the PTSD diagnosis was not real — and therefore they did not have to accommodate this employee. However, as long as an employee has a legitimate diagnosis and a need for reasonable accommodations, the employer must make a good faith effort to provide those accommodations under both federal and state law.
At PLBSH, we believe that all employees deserve to be treated fairly. We stand up for workers, and will fight for them when they need someone to advocate for them. If you have suffered discrimination or if an employer has denied your request for a reasonable accommodation, we can help. Contact our office today at (800) 435-7542 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment with a skilled California employment discrimination attorney.