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California worker wins disability discrimination lawsuit

Discrimination can come in many forms, whether it is based on race, gender, age or sexual preference. A recent case involving disability discrimination has come to a fortunate end. A disabled juvenile hall corrections officer recently won a lawsuit against Orange County after claiming that he faced disability discrimination, retaliation and failure to prevent harassment.

The officer was born with a deformity of the right hand where the hand lacked fingers and a thumb. Due to his disability, he often kept his hand in his pocket because he was self-conscious about the matter.

The officer claimed that in 2006, one of his coworkers posted on a blog that he is offering other workers $100 if they get a photograph of the officer's hand. Other officers called the man "one arm bandit" and "rat claw boy" on the website as well. His coworkers also considered the officer a "rat" because he reported their unfair treatment of inmates.

The county claimed the postings were anonymous and that they did not approve the blog, but the court pointed out that the blog was being accessed using workplace computers. The county also claimed the harassment was not severe enough to meet requirements. The court disagreed; saying the county complete ignored other conduct, such as "the incidents where employees put their right hands in their pockets, the scrawling of 'the claw' on plaintiff's (work) cart and elsewhere, the occasions when plaintiff was ignored, and the like."

The officer was awarded more than $280,000 to cover medical expenses, mental distress and lost earnings.

Source: Business Insurance, "Employer liable for employee's disability harassment by co-workers: Court," Roberto Ceniceros, Feb. 10, 2012

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