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Injured California worker claims wrongful termination

When workers whose jobs necessitate being able to perform physically-challenging labor are injured, even if they recover some degree their former abilities, they may still find their job in jeopardy. A Northern California maintenance worker is suing his former employer because he says he was fired after 25 years due to his age and inability to lift the amount of weight he was able to before an on-the-job injury sidelined him.

The plaintiff, who worked for Pebble Beach Co., hurt his back as he was "replacing a 50-pound pump motor" in 2009. He was seen by a doctor who worked for his employer. That doctor said that he could return to work, but could not lift anything weighing over 50 pounds. Less than six months later, that doctor removed the weight restriction.

In 2012, a different doctor said that the plaintiff could lift items up to 30 pounds, and offered to help him get a "job relocation voucher" if the company could not make that accommodation. However, he was terminated that June. He says he was told by the human resources department that the termination was because of the company's "inability to accommodate his disability." However, the doctor who made that last restriction said that he doubted that his recommendation was significant in the termination decision.

In fact, the employee had other disputes with his employer prior to his termination. He says that in 2011, when his employer cut his work week from 40 to 32 hours, he complained that the reduction was because of his "age and health issues." However, he also requested not to work on weekends. He says when he made that request, his supervisor told him he could quit or they could replace him.

The plaintiff has eight counts in his suit, including wrongful termination, age discrimination and "failing to reasonably accommodate disability." The company has said it believes there is no merit to the suit.

Whatever the complete story behind why this man was terminated, if he has reason to believe that the action was taken even in part because of his inability to work at the level he was able to prior to his injury, he has every right to contest the action in court. Attorneys who are experienced in employment law may evaluate a situation and advise a potential plaintiff on the best course of action.

Source: TheCalifornian.com, "Former Pebble Beach Co. employee claims age, disability discrimination" Allison Gatlin, Jan. 07, 2014

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