Wrongful Termination Action Filed By Sacramento Firefighter, Part 15 of 19

(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this workplace/sex discrimination case and its proceedings.)

A. The Fitness for Duty Evaluations

The jury in this case determined that the defendant sent Mr.Carter to an involuntary psychological fitness for duty evaluation in retaliation for his numerous complaints about workplace discrimination. Incredibly, the City’s Human Resources Director, Roni Moore, admitted that this was one of her reasons for sending Mr.Carter to a fitness-for-duty evaluation. And Ms. Moore testified at trial that she could understand how outsiders, including the jury, could easily perceive her actions as retaliatory.

As a result of the City’s decision to send Mr.Carter to a fitness-for-duty examination, he was not permitted to return to his work as a firefighter, notwithstanding a medical release from his treating psychiatrist. This caused him both economic and emotional harm. The evidence also strongly suggested that the City tried to bias the fitness-for-duty examiner against Mr.Carter by disparagingly referring to his “numerous” discrimination complaints as “unfounded,” and by providing the examiner with uniformly negative information about Mr.Carter’s long career as a firefighter.

When Mr.Carter was re-evaluated by his treating physician on August 10, 2004, and cleared to return to work, the City refused to allow him to return, instead sending him to another fitness-for-duty exam with the same biased Psychology Office that had declared him unfit the first time around. This again prevented Mr.Carter from returning to his job, causing him both economic and emotional damage. When Mr.Carter objected to going back to a biased examiner, the City solicited a follow-up report from that examiner anyway, even though there had been no follow-up. Plaintiffs expert at trial, Dr. X., testified that this action was completely outrageous and unprofessional.

The follow-up fitness for duty report, which was issued on September 1, 2004, was death to plaintiffs career because it gave him a hopeless prognosis, thus giving the Retirement Board grounds to act on an involuntary retirement.

The defendant’s argument that these actions were not adverse employment acts is not supported by a single case authority, defies common sense, and is at odds with the broad meaning that term acquired following the California Supreme Court’s ruling in Yanowitz, supra, at 1049-1056. (See Part 16 of 19.)

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

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