California Man Files Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against Employer

Law Firm Newswire



San Francisco, CA (Law Firm Newswire) January 21, 2016 – A former employee of Ferguson Enterprises sued the plumbing distribution company for disability discrimination, wrongful termination and retaliation among seven causes of action.

Eric Padayhag was diagnosed with cervical radiculopathy, commonly known as a pinched nerve, after a car accident in 2005. The disability prevented him from straining his neck during his employment.

He began working in Ferguson’s distribution warehouse in Stockton, California, in early 2012. Padayhag’s primary job duty was driving the order picker, a type of forklift, to pick up products off shelves. Due to his neck injury, the company exempted him from a task that required him to look straight up while driving a reach truck to retrieve boxes from high shelves.

For nearly three years, Padayhag continued to successfully work for Ferguson with this arrangement. He performed his other job duties well as they did not involve straining his neck, and even received positive performance reviews.

When management changed in early 2015, they questioned his exemption from the one duty. They told him to bring a detailed doctor’s note stating he could do everything in the job description. The note Padayhag obtained from his doctor said that his diagnosis was permanent and he could not operate the reach truck as a result. Ferguson fired him a week later, claiming Padayhag was “unable to perform minimum job requirements.”

“Disabled workers have an uphill battle when competing with non-disabled workers for jobs,” attorney Bryan J. McCormack, of the San Francisco, California employment law firm McCormack & Erlich, was quoted as saying in a November SF Gate article.* “It’s too bad that when people are honest and disclose a disability they are being discriminated against. They are not being afforded equal protection under the law and given a chance to prove themselves, which is really a shame.” McCormack’s firm is representing Padayhag.

On several occasions, Padayhag asked why Ferguson would not allow him to continue working with the prior arrangement. Padayhag’s supervisor allegedly told him that it was an issue of “fairness” to the other employees, even though none of them had ever complained of any “unfairness.”

In California, it is unlawful for an employer to terminate an employee or to otherwise discriminate against them because of their physical disability. Padayhag is seeking lost wages, injunctive relief, compensation for emotional distress, as well a punitive and other damages.

Learn more at McCormack & Erlich 150 Post Street Suite 742 San Francisco, CA 94108 Phone: (415) 296-8420
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