Employment Law Reporter – April 2013: "We won! Wait, no, we lost!": The Narrative Arc of a Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

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An employee (Prock) becomes temporarily but totally disabled by an anxiety disorder, goes out on a disability leave and receives disability benefits. The disability leave is extended by the employee’s doctor several times. Finally, when the employee is expected to return from his last leave, he calls the employer (Tamura)and notifies it that he is still disabled and can’t return for another six weeks. Likely feeling the freedom of the absence of a doctor’s note and annoyed at having to accommodate the employee yet another time, the employer puts Prock on hold. After a few minutes,the employer returns and informs the employee that the company can’t hold his position that long and terminates him. Prock v. Tamura Corp. of Am., No. E054185 (Cal. Ct. App. Jan. 25, 2013).

Prock sues Tamura for disability discrimination under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The employer fights back and files a motion for summary judgment against Prock because he was unable to perform any of his job functions, was totally disabled and was not a qualified individual with a disability. The employer also reminds the court that Prock was accommodated in his disability several times when his leave was repeatedly extended.

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