Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Employee Relations Lessons
The juicy story of Kay
Morris-Robertson is one that involves shopping mall conglomerate
Westfield Holdings, a struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and shocking allegations of failure to accommodate disability and disability discrimination. This bizarre tale began as Morris-Robertson, a former executive with Westfield Holdings, watched
her husband die of a heart attack in front of her suddenly as the
couple was sailing off the coast of Southern California in 2008.
Kay Morris-Robertson claims that she asked her supervisor for unpaid leave
during her time of grieving but he responded unsympathetically and
assigned her more job responsibilities instead. After sending a distraught email to her supervisor expressing her feelings, Morris-Robertson was arrested and held in a psychological detention unit based on a police complaint given by her employer. Westfield, the $62 billion dollar operator of shopping centers around the globe, was
allegedly unsympathetic to Morris-Robertson’s diagnosis of PTSD and
denied her time off for therapy appointments while threatening her
with termination. She also claims that Westfield never informed her of
her rights under the Family Medical Leave Act or the California Family
Rights Act, two State measures designed to protect employees.
Kay Morris-Robertson’s laundry list of alleged charges against Westfield includes Failure
to Accommodate Disability, Failure to Engage in Interactive Process,
Disability Discrimination, and Violation of California Family Rights Act, among others. Represented by the Gillian Law Firm, Morris-Robertson’s lawsuit has been picked up by most major media outlets around the globe,
most likely because of the dramatic content and shocking accusations.
But Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a failure to accommodate disability
and disability discrimination are serious topics that reach far beyond
the realms of water cooler gossip.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), employers are
required to provide reasonable accommodations to a qualified worker who
has a disability, and failing to accommodate disabled workers puts employers in hot water with employment discrimination, which violates the ADA. In other words, allegations like the ones Kay Morris-Robertson has against Westfield Holdings are serious business.