Derek Smith Law Group Files a Wrongful Termination and Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Alleging UPS Fired a Disabled Manager with 15 Years on the Job Experience for Eating a Pear.
The Complaint makes all of the below allegations:
In December 2017, William Cortez and several fellow UPS employees ate from a box of pears that was meant to be discarded. These pears would be the undoing of Mr. Cortez’s 15-year career with UPS.
UPS policy and practices allow employees to consume shipped perishables that have exceeded their expiration date. The food is placed in the office and anyone can enjoy it.
The pears found in the office on that day in December 2017 fit into that category. They were on the verge of expiration. Therefore, they were deemed undeliverable and left out for the employees and managers.
Mr. Cortez and several other employees enjoyed these pears as a welcome snack. Mr. Cortez was later confronted by the company about the pears. He explained the policy at UPS and the issue was dropped for the moment.
Unfortunately, in a completely unrelated incident, Mr. Cortez suffered congestive heart failure later that December. He needed surgery and rehabilitation, keeping him out of the workplace and on disability leave for over a year.
In March 2019, Mr. Cortez was able to return to work at UPS. His doctor released him from disability leave with accommodated duties.
As a manager, Mr. Cortez did not drive. Nor did he lift heavy boxes. These restrictions were easy to accommodate because Mr. Cortez was mostly behind a desk throughout the day.
UPS Denies Any Reasonable Accommodations to William Cortez
On March 4, 2019, Mr. Cortez entered what he was told was an HR meeting regarding the necessary reasonable accommodations for his return to work. He sat down with his employer and was ambushed. Instead of engaging in cooperative dialogue and discussing the accommodations, UPS terminated Mr. Cortez.
The reasoning was simple: He took a pear that did not belong to him. The company said that was theft and UPS has a no-tolerance policy on theft.
However, the other employees who enjoyed a pear on that day in December 2017 were permitted to keep their jobs.
On February 20, 2020, Mr. Cortez, represented by Danilo Bandovic of the Derek Smith Law Group, filed a complaint in the Southern District of New York. The lawsuit claims Mr. Cortez was wrongfully terminated by UPS in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Rather than providing reasonable accommodations to a manager at UPS, the company fabricated a reason to fire him.
Mr. Cortez’s attorney, Danilo Bandovic explained it perfectly. “As stated in the complaint, Mr. Cortez was terminated because of his disabilities and because UPS did not want to provide him with reasonable accommodations. Instead of providing the accommodations, they claimed he was a thief. Yet, they continued to employ everyone else who ate a pear that day.”
“We at the Derek Smith Law Group are angered by acts of discrimination, especially like this one, based on disability. A successful plaintiff, such as this one, would be entitled to remedies under the law, such as lost wages, attorney’s fees, court costs, emotional distress, and punitive damages.”
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from denying disabled workers reasonable accommodations relating to a covered disability. Heart disease is a covered disability and it is reasonable to accommodate a manger but restricting driving duties and the weight he can lift, especially since his job doesn’t require either of these tasks.
If you are the victim of disability discrimination in your workplace or if you have suffered wrongful termination, you may potentially recover several types of damages. Contact our top disability discrimination lawyers today at (800) 809-2207 for a free consultation.
Disclaimer: None of the above statements are averred as facts but this article rather states what was alleged in the complaint.