Lynne Seabrook was working as an assistant registrar for Upper Iowa University focusing on its Malaysia campus when she was terminated in February 2009. She felt that the termination was because she had been diagnosed with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.
Based on several conversations I have had in the last few months with attorneys who regularly represent employees, the most significant aspect of that scenario was that she was not terminated two months earlier. If she had been terminated in December, 2008, before the broad amendments to the Americans with Disabilites Act became effective, she might never have been the happy beneficiary of this headline from last week’s WCF Courier, Former UIU employee awarded $1.1M by civil jury.
Many of those attorneys I have talked with said while they formerly turned away ADA cases because they were such summary judgment targets, they were now giving them a much closer look.
Headlines and jury awards like this, will do nothing to discourage that view.