Home Depot is in hot water due to a recent workplace discrimination suit brought against the company by a former employee who worked as a merchandiser. The home improvement store has been sued for disability discrimination, wrongful termination, and employer retaliation.
The lawsuit, which was filed in the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, alleges that Guadalupe Carbajal was injured during a fall at work on February 2, 2015. The former employee had been working for Home Depot since 2013.
According to the lawsuit, Carbajal suffered from right knee, right hip and lower back pain. The suit also states that Carbajal's supervisor did not allow her to see a doctor the following day. Additionally, her supervisor delayed providing medical claim paperwork for a full 20 days.
Home Depot Failed to Provide Carbajal with Reasonable Accommodation
Carbajal was eventually able to see a doctor, who placed the injured worker on modified work status. This meant that the former Home Depot merchandiser was restricted to pushing and pulling up to 10 pounds, limited to standing for just 30 minutes each hour, and was to use the stairs minimally. Her doctor also restricted her from kneeling, climbing ladders and squatting. But Home Depot failed to comply with the doctor's prescribed orders.
The suit also alleges that once Carbajal's supervisor was informed of her new work restrictions, she told the former employee, "You're not well yet? You're still going to the doctor? Well, we have work to do." Despite her pain worsening by the job duties, Carbajal performed her work without accommodation.
Home Depot Denied Carbajal's Request for a Position Transfer
Five months later, in July 2015, the suit alleges that the former Home Depot worker discussed with a company HR associate that her doctor's orders were not being honored by the company. Home Depot ultimately denied Carbajal's requests for transferring to a position that she could perform better with her injuries.
In September 2015, Carbajal's injuries improved enough for her to return to work without restrictions. Carbajal had applied for worker's compensation, so Home Depot was given a Work and Disability Status report in December 2015. The report stated that the merchandiser was now permitted to perform her job with certain restrictions.
Supervisor Sent Carbajal Home and Told Her to Go on Disability Leave
Unfortunately, this wasn't good news for Carbajal's new supervisor who, after seeing the report, sent her home and told her to go on disability leave. Home Depot has not made an attempt to respond to the former worker's requests to return to her job. Carbajal alleges that the actions of her previous employer were in retaliation for opposing illegal employment practices, disability policies and failure to provide reasonable accommodation.
The former Home Depot merchandiser is seeking lost wages, benefits, damages for emotional distress and compensation for attorney's fees. Carbajal is also asking for an injunction against defendants from engaging in the unlawful behaviors that are mentioned in the workplace discrimination complaint.
Disability Discrimination Laws in California: For Further Reading
- Disability Discrimination at Work: What California Employees Need to Know
- DFEH - Disability Definition via California Department of Fair Employment and Housing
- Employment Discrimination Based on a Disability (PDF) via California Department of Fair Employment and Housing
- What Are Disability Discrimination Laws in California?
Are you a California employee who is being subjected to disability discrimination at work? If you think your employer has violated your employee rights under California and Federal employment laws, contact our expert employment attorneys at Hennig Ruiz right away.