Injured Dean Foods Worker Awarded $3.3 Million in Retaliation Case
Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) February 4, 2020 – An injured employee was awarded damages of $3.3 million after an Illinois jury found that his former employer retaliated against him for filing workers’ compensation claims.
Richard Jankowski filed a lawsuit against Dean Foods alleging retaliation and disability discrimination in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The company refused to allow him to resume working after he became injured in the workplace and declined to perform tasks that violated his medical restrictions. Jankowski filed for workers’ compensation after his injury.
According to court documents, Jankowski was injured and became disabled after he started working for Dean Foods. He had surgery in August 2013. He tried to return to work with restrictions in August 2014, but the company terminated him instead of offering a light-duty position.
“This verdict is a clear message that it is unacceptable and illegal for employers to engage in retaliatory behavior against their employees,” commented Paul Greenberg, a personal injury attorney with Chicago law firm Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, who is not involved with the case. “Injured workers have the right to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for medical costs, lost earnings, vocational rehabilitation and more. Employees who have problems claiming this vital financial support should speak to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.”
Jankowski claimed he suffered a serious re-injury after managers forced him to carry a 480-pound load up an incline. He had a doctor’s note stating he should avoid such tasks due to his injury.
The jury found that Dean Foods engaged in disability discrimination against Jankowski by refusing to participate in an interactive process and failing to offer reasonable accommodation as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The company did not allow him return to employment in a different position to accommodate his disability.
Dean Foods maintained that the company was not obligated to provide Jankowski with an alternative job in an effort to accommodate his permanent restrictions upon his return to work in 2014. The lawsuit alleged that company management staged misleading photos and created inaccurate documents to conceal their violations of Illinois labor laws and the ADA.
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