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ME/CFS Employee Dicrimination Disability Lawsuit against the Seattle Times

Discussion in 'Finances, Work, and Disability' started by Ecoclimber, May 31, 2012.

  1. Ecoclimber

    Ecoclimber Senior Member

    This should will be interesting with possible national ramifications. Plaintiff with CFS sues the Seattle Times, a major newspaper, for violation of the ADA, American with Disability Act, for discrimination because of not providing reasonable accommodations for his condition, CFS. Noticed that he filed it in Federal Court rather than State Court, so this will have major national significance if it goes to trial.


    It will be interesting if his condition by his doctor is truly ME/CFS and not labeled psychosomatic. The doctor is a Naturopath...not good. http://www.elliottbaynaturalmedicine.com/Paul Dompe, ND.html. He did however, receive permission from the Federal Government Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to sue in Federal Court based on the fact that he had sufficient grounds.

    Most of these lawsuits are settled before ever going to trial secured by a confidentiality clause between the two parties in the case. The question is whether the employer will defend this on the reasonable accommodation clause...my law school training is paying off. If so, then it would not pertain to, nor rest on the nature of his disability. Or, will they instead, go after the fact that CFS is not recognized as disease or illness that needs accommodation. If this goes to court and the defense calls in Dr. Debra Buchwald as an expert witness from the University of Washington, he could be in for world of hurt.

    If the defense fights on the nature of the disability as an issue, then it could have national significance. If the plaintiff prevails and the Federal Court rules that CFS is cause by an underlying disease, then you could throw out the DSM-V manual that questions whether ME/CFS is psycho-somatic disorder. Hmm, interesting.

  2. Valentijn

    Valentijn Activity Level: 3

    Amersfoort, Netherlands
    I'm not convinced he has ME - no mention of PEM or OI symptoms, just disabling fatigue. But that's the problem in the US, where the CDC definition is used for diagnosis, and that very definition might be limiting the symptoms that people with ME talk about.
  3. Snow Leopard

    Snow Leopard Hibernating

    He was fired because he refused to do a night shift. I suspect that the whole night shift thing was done as an excuse to fire him anyway.

    I think it will make an interesting case.
    merylg likes this.
  4. Dainty

    Dainty Senior Member

    Unfortunately, to my (untrained) eye it looks like the case won't be about the legitimacy of ME/CFS at all. Here's the crux of the lawsuit:

    So basically, the Times can claim that as far as they know, his doctor says that he is medically capable of working the shift and therefore his refusal to do so is legitimate grounds for firing jsut like you would fire anyone else who simply refuses to do the job but are fully capable of it.

    Whether or not he was actually capable may unfortunately be irrelevant, because what's in question here is the Times' wrongdoing. So if they actually did misrepresent the job description then this guy has a chance, but if not the weak link in the chain looks to me more like his doctor, who incorrectly signed off on something their patient was incapable of doing without worsening his condition.
  5. GracieJ

    GracieJ Senior Member

    Any way it shakes out, this will set some precedents in case law. Let's hope it goes the way we want it to go.
  6. roxie60

    roxie60 Senior Member

    Central Illinois, USA
    not to put a negative spin on it but what are the odds it will go in an ME/CFS patients favor???
  7. jeffrez

    jeffrez Senior Member

    Have to agree, sorry to say. Replace "CFS" in the complaint with "AIDS," "cancer," "arthritis," or even "nosebleed" and he'd probably win. :rolleyes:

    The second job description submitted to the ND is allegedly a complete fabrication, so that should be easy to disprove, both in relation to the first description and to the paper's existing job description (unless they changed it).

    The supervisors sound like the typical power-play d!cks one encounters almost everywhere, makes me sick just to read it. Very easy to see the crap he went through. I hope he wins!
  8. GracieJ

    GracieJ Senior Member

    Incurable optimist here, in spite of a lifetime of abusive situations and 22 years of CFS... we all know what that is like. Somewhere, someday, some way, there will be a tipping point, and this case could easily be a landmark case for us. I know I am praying for it. Yes, we do still need the reality check: no matter what the physical issue, there will always be employers who will do everything possible to shake loose a medical headache, no matter what kind of documentation is on the employee's file and no matter how good the laws are behind it. That is just life. Best-case scenario is that more and more people start waking up to this and the CFS population starts seeing some needed breaks here and there legally, socially, medically, all of it, sporadic or otherwise. The wheels of change turn slowly indeed.

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