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Court rules in favor of plaintiff's estate

New York residents may have heard about a court ruling that allowed the estate of a deceased worker to file an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claim against his employer. The employee worked for a company called Griffin Construction from 2008 to 2013. In 2012, the man was diagnosed with prostate cancer and needed to take three weeks off for radiation treatment.

Upon making the request, the man was terminated, and Griffin said that he could reapply for a job in the future. The man filed a disability discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) two months after his termination. However, the man passed away in 2014 while the charge was still pending. The EEOC eventually found probable cause to sue, and Griffin filed a motion to have it dismissed declaring that the man's claim didn't survive his death under Arkansas law.

The district court sided with Griffin as the ADA said nothing about this type of scenario. However, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that a uniform federal law would be more appropriate than state law to determine the matter. Therefore, it ruled in favor of the man's estate, and the ruling sent the matter back to the district court for further review.

Those who believe that an employer has violated their rights under the ADA may wish to talk with an attorney. Legal counsel may be able to help an individual establish that discrimination occurred on the basis of a disability. This may be done by collecting email exchanges between a worker and employer or by recording statements made by the employer to the employee. If successful, an individual may be entitled to reinstatement while that person or his or her estate may be entitled to financial compensation.

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