Attorney Jeffrey Taren has obtained a $100,000 settlement from a Homeowners Association that refused to timely accommodate a disabled veteran in his attempt to purchase a home. The accommodation being sought was simply a waiver of a truck weight limit to allow the client to park his disability-plated vehicle that transported his support dog and his mobility devices. The family alleged that the failure to approve the request for an accommodation caused them to forfeit their contract to purchase a newly constructed, handicap-accessible home. As part of the settlement, the Homeowners Association agreed to adopt a new policy requiring it to promptly consider requests for accommodation and also to undergo training regarding its obligations under the Fair Housing Act and the Washington Law Against Discrimination. The home buyers were referred to MacDonald Hoague & Bayless by the Fair Housing Center of Washington located in Tacoma.
David Whedbee, MacDonald Hoague & Bayless lawyer and plaintiff in this ADA class action lawsuit, Reynoldson et al v. City of Seattle, worked successfully to win a settlement with the City of Seattle to ensure wheelchair users and others have dependable, safe access to the city’s entire transportation system and sidewalks. Ably represented by Disability Rights Washington, Linda Dardarian, and Tim Fox, plaintiffs secured a settlement that entails construction of 22,500 curb ramps over the next 18 years and improvements in the way citizens may request new curb ramps and expedite repairs. For full details on this settlement, click on the press release issue by the City.
MacDonald Hoague & Bayless lawyers, Tim Ford, David Whedbee and Tiffany Cartwright were honored to represent the family of Leonard Thomas, an unarmed man shot and killed by police while holding his young son. The jury found for the Thomas family and the estate on every count: unreasonable seizure, excessive force, false arrest, negligent investigation, deprivation of family relationship, using explosives to breach a home, causing severe emotional distress and unreasonably killing the family pet. For more details on this case, please see the following links.
Federal District Court Judge John C. Coughenour today ordered the Snohomish County PUD to pay $1.8 million to a former customer service representative, after it wrongfully terminated her for perceived side effects from prescription medications for her chronic migraine headaches.
Coughenour said the PUD failed to accommodate Cynthia Stewart’s disability, and discriminated against her because of it, writing the PUD should have: “treated her as an employee with a medical condition, rather than a drug abuser.”
Ms. Stewart suffered debilitating migraine headaches the entire 23 years she worked as a customer services representative for the PUD. In 2013, PUD supervisors began expressing frustration at Ms. Stewart’s need for time off to receive treatment for her migraines. In October 2014, a supervisor claimed that Ms. Stewart showed signs of impairment after she returned from her doctor’s office where she received a shot of pain medication. Even though the PUD knew any side-effects were a direct result of the medication prescribed for her disability, it forced Ms. Stewart to sign a last-chance agreement as a condition of her returning to work – effectively threatening to fire Ms. Stewart if it ever again suspected she suffered such side effects. In April 2015, the PUD again suspected Ms. Stewart of being impaired after a doctor’s visit, and terminated her employment. “The PUD treated Ms. Stewart like a drug addict and criminal, rather than accommodate her disability as the law requires,” said Shaeffer.
Washington law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, and prohibits employers from taking disciplinary actions against employees for their disabilities, including disability-related conduct or medication side effects.
“This is a victory for all Washington employees who suffer from a disability. Employees should be able to seek appropriate medical treatment without fear of losing their jobs,” said Joe Shaeffer, one of Ms. Stewart’s attorneys.
The damages award included compensation for lost wages, lost pension, and emotional distress. The Court also directed the parties to apply for an award of attorney’s fees and costs, as well as an award to compensate Ms. Stewart for adverse tax consequences of the award.
Ms. Stewart was represented by Joe Shaeffer, Katie Chamberlain, and Sam Kramer of MacDonald Hoague & Bayless.
A federal judge has ordered a trial of the civil rights claims brought by the family of Leonard Thomas, an African American man killed by a SWAT team at his home in Fife, Washington, in 2013. The Thomas family is represented by MHB lawyers Tim Ford, David Whedbee and Tiffany Cartwright. The trial is set to begin June 19, in federal court in Seattle. Below are links that provide more details.