Having been prosecuting discrimination and retaliation claims for a while now, I am naturally curious to get into the minds of those managers who retaliate or discriminate against employees who are disabled or who suffered an on-the-job injury (and filed a workers compensation claim).
Recently, during a conversation with an in-house counsel(!) of a relatively large company (over 500 employees), I got some insight into what drivers retaliation. The employer refused to provide reasonable accommodations to my client, who had a serious back injury and two subsequent back surgeries. Some of the comments of the company’s lawyer astounded me, and included: “He has a history of filing workers compensation claims,” and “he is been pushing it for a while now with asking for things.” It is as if the attorney was admitting that they developed hostility or animosity toward my client because of his injury and resulting medical condition.
I firmly believe that the above mindset on the part of the managers at any workplace – the mindset of “I am tired of those injuries and requests for accommodations” is a breeding ground for discrimination and wrongful termination claims. Hopefully, when employers pay out large settlements, verdicts or administrative fines, imposed by EEOC of DFEH, they make the necessary changes to redress discriminatory mindset among managers through training or otherwise, even though that is of course also not always the case.