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Tillman & Associates, Attorneys at Law

Amputee sues over lost wages, right to work

An equipment operator who worked for the Georgia Ports Authority is suing for wrongful termination after his leg was amputated in an on-the-job accident and he was subsequently fired six months later.

The former Port Authority employee was working in tandem with another employee to lower a large shipping container on a truck chassis. The other operator made a mistake which caused the former employee's truck to lift off the ground, ejecting him through the windshield. When the truck landed, it rolled forward and amputated his leg. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he wasn't back to work within the next six-month period.

At that point, the Port Authority simply sent him a letter notifying him that he was out of leave and there weren't any available accommodations that would put him back to work.

While the firing was in line with the Port Authority's policies, the former employee alleges that his firing was illegal because he was more than willing to return to work. His former employer, on the other hand, made no effort to accommodate his disability in any reasonable fashion.

The injured employee, through his attorneys, is now seeking more than $1 million in loss of income and a jury trial to determine the full extent of the damages on the basis that the Port Authority violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

He first filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and was issued a right-to-sue notice, which gives him permission to file a lawsuit based on disability discrimination within the next 90 days.

Because of limited funds, the EEOC cannot pursue every lawsuit where it suspects legitimate discrimination to have occurred. The right-to-sue notice gives the former employee the ability to pursue the claim in civil court instead of relying solely on the EEOC.

In addition to the disability discrimination, there are significant issues involved with workers' compensation, which grants employees the right to return to work if they are able -- the issues with workers' comp and the ADA often overlap.

For more information on workplace injuries or advice on your own situation, seek the assistance of an attorney with experience in the field.

Source: SavannahNOW, "Worker who lost his leg sues ports for being fired," Jan Skutch, May 26, 2017

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