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Can I still file a lawsuit against my employer under ADA violations?

Kingsland, GA |

I recently asked my employer for a reasonable accommodation under the ADA after being diagnosed with postpartum depression. My psychiatrist submitted the paperwork to go from a 40 hour week to a 30 hour week, HR deemed it a medical necessity, and then my supervisor denied it within the 15 day time frame due to apparent "staffing reasons." So i even brought up the idea of me working from home and would work 40 hours and was still denied. They stated they would only accommodate me if i took a demotion and loss in wages. So I proceeded to file a complaint with the EEOC and then all of a sudden my employer wants to accommodate me for 30 hours. The EEOC has yet to begin their investigation but can i still sue them after they finally accommodated me? Any guidance is greatly appreciated!

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Attorney answers 1


I am a California attorney and cannot give legal advice in your state. My comments are information only, based on federal law and general legal principles. YOUR STATE MAY HAVE ITS OWN LAWS THAT OFFER SIMILAR OR GREATER PROTECTION. If I mention your state’s laws, it only means I did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant. You MUST check with an attorney licensed in your state to learn your rights.

Congratulations on your growing family! I hope your depression subsides and you able to fully enjoy life and your baby very, very soon.

The purpose of a lawsuit is to get something one is entitled to or compensation for losses one suffered. If your employer is now doing what the law requires and you have not suffered any losses, what would you be suing for? It doesn't sound like you suffered any economic loss. It is theoretically possible you suffered emotional distress during the short time you have been deling with this, though it may be difficult to show the distress was due to the initial denial of reasonable accommodation as opposed to the postpartum depression. Even if you could show this, the value of a short period of emotional distress is usually fairly low, except in the most extreme situations. This would make it very difficult to find an attorney to handle the case on a contingency basis. The economic realities of litigation make it unrealistic for an ordinary working person to retain an attorney on an hourly basis.

Also, it is not clear that postpartum depression is a disability under the ADA. It would depend on several factors, including the duration of the condition. Temporary conditions do not qualify as a "disability" under the ADA.

The above is based on the very limited information available in your statement. You would be well served to speak with one or more experienced employment law attorneys your state with whom you can discuss the details of your situation. You can find a plaintiffs employment attorney on the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) web site NELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the country for attorneys representing working people. You can search by location and practice area. Also, NELA has affiliates in every state and many cities which are listed on the NELA site. Not all NELA attorneys are named on the web site or affiliate site. This should not influence your selection; attorneys can choose whether or not to purchase a listing in the national directory, and each affiliate has its own rules for listing.

I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best. *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***