Failure to Accommodate and Provide Reasonable Accommodations at SFMOMA

Yesterday, I met with a client – a very pleasant lady in her mid thirties who was forced to quit from the SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Arts) due to what appeared to be egregious violations of California disability laws at workplace. The former SFMOMA employee has been suffering from fairly severe scoliosis in her back and accompanying PTSD for several years. She submitted doctors’ letters to her employer requesting the museum to provide her with reasonable accommodations, but they systematically ignored it for several years, openly accusing the employee of making her symptoms up and also telling her that unless she is crippled or has a terminal illness, she is not considered disabled and will not receive any special treatment. The accommodations requested were minimal – to allow the employee to take a few hours off per month to see her doctor in order to relief her back pain symptoms.

Out of curiosity, I asked my client to stand up and show me the curvature of her back, and I was surprised to find how noticeable the degenerative changes in her back were. I wonder if her employer ever bothered to look at her back…

This unprecedented ignorance of the disability laws at workplace that employs several hundreds of employees and that has been a distinguished establishment with national recognition for many years is unacceptable and should be changed. I am not sure if it’s a wrong termination lawsuit or some involvement from the management that will trigger the change in the human resources management in that museum, but it seems to me that it’s only a matter of time until such systematic disregard for disability laws will lead to significant liability on the part of the San Francisco’s premier museum.

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