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April 2017

Gordon & Rees Los Angeles Team Prevails in Disability Discrimination Jury Trial

Los Angeles partner Calvin Davis and senior counsel Eleanor Welke, with assistance from associate Candice Nam, successfully defended a cosmetics manufacturer against a disability discrimination claim in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The plaintiff, a long time assembly line worker for Gordon & Rees's client, developed hand pain that impacted her ability to continue in the same job. The client moved her to different positions, as well as providing her with time off.  She ultimately returned to work with a doctor’s note clearing her but she continued to complain about hand pain and was terminated that same day.

The plaintiff contended the firm's client wrongfully terminated her, did not engage in a proper interactive process, did not reasonably accommodate her disability, discriminated against her because she was disabled and retaliated against her based on her complaints.  At trial, the plaintiff sought in excess of $300,000 in lost wages and emotional distress damages.  Prior to trial, the court excluded evidence that: (1) additional leave would have been futile as she had ongoing complaints before workers compensation doctors about her hands for months after termination, and (2) her emotional distress was actually caused by her son’s arrest for sex with a minor.

Gordon & Rees's position was that the client did everything it could to accommodate the plaintiff, as the job required the use of your hands, and despite efforts, nothing helped.  In addition, the report prepared by the psychologist to support the plaintiff’s emotional distress claims contained significant evidence of either hypochondria or exaggeration of psychological symptoms so the plaintiff did not just seem stressed, but psychotic. 

The plaintiff voluntarily dismissed her claim of retaliation during trial as there was no evidence to support the claim. 

After a few hours of deliberation the jury returned a defense verdict on all causes of action, including a unanimous defense verdict on the plaintiff’s claim of wrongful termination.

The Los Angeles team would like to thank paralegal Allison Andrews and legal secretaries Erika Facundo and Sandy Halvorsen for their help in achieving this result.

Candice S. Cho
Calvin E. Davis
Eleanor Murphy Welke


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