Many of us work hard to overcome physical and psychological challenges in order to achieve one of our most important goals: working productively. Work engages us mentally, gives us a strong sense of identity, and provides financial security. We do not ask for special treatment; only to be given a fair chance at succeeding.
Congress, state, and local governments have enacted laws to ensure that individuals with disabilities and handicaps receive reasonable accommodation inside the workplace, and to be accepted openly in housing and elsewhere. These protections, in particular the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, provide clear standards that define impairments and disabilities, who is covered by these Acts, and the accommodation they are entitled to. The Americans with Disabilities Act was designed to protect the civil rights of people who have physical and mental disabilities and our firm has made it a top priority to make sure that these rights are not infringed upon.
Employers of all sizes often find it easier to ignore the reasonable needs of workers with disabilities. They do it, out of studied ignorance about disabilities or outright prejudice at working with those who are disabled or having them “on display.” Some demand repeated submissions from physicians and ship them out for “independent review” by paid medical consultants before they will even consider accommodating a disabled individual. The confidentiality of highly sensitive medical records is often breached.
We have succeeded in litigation and reasonable accommodations processes on behalf of individuals with physical and emotional disabilities, and our work in this area is a core practice area. We secured reinstatement and a substantial monetary payment for a female wrongfully terminated by the federal government in retaliation for requesting Reasonable Accommodation for her diabetes, successfully challenged a female special agent’s lifetime ban from law enforcement after returning from spinal injury, and are litigating the coerced retirement of a disabled Gulf War Vet.
Discrimination and Retaliation
Climbing the ladder at a prominent institution often means you have to neuter your gender, your race or national origin, your orientation, your very identity — firms, government agencies, and think-tanks that proudly tout being headquartered in great cities are characteristically unrepresentative of our citizenry and intolerant. The Federal Government has attempted to mediate these effects by passing laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Civil Rights Acts, the Whistleblower Protection Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is a perfect example. It is designed to ensure that women receive the same pay as men for the same work, yet pay disparities continue to exist.
Law enforcement agencies are notorious “boys clubs.” Glass ceilings at banks and financial institutions are very low. Degrading comments and behavior are often dismissed as pranks. Reorganizations that leave women and minorities out in the cold, reassignments that transfer high profile work to newcomers, rules and policies that are imposed selectively.
Federal laws that require accommodation are routinely ignored. Confidential medical information is circulated; disabilities are the subjects of jokes.
The costs to jobs and personal lives for speaking out about discriminatory and unlawful employment practices are incalculable. We have earned recognition in difficult cases of discrimination, retaliation, and failure to accommodate through hard work over the years and are very proud of our track record. We represent clients forcefully and skillfully, understand the painful problems they are undeservedly subjected to, and have secured very favorable results across a broad spectrum of cases.
There are a lot of other courageous men and women of principle who speak out about powerful government and corporate interests engaged in misconduct. When institutions like these are challenged, they fight back. Hard.
The world is a tough place. If you reveal that the head of your government agency used his or her authority to break the law, you stand a good chance of losing your job. If you make this same revelation and your employer is a multi-national corporation, there’s an even better chance that you’ll be sued for disclosing trade secrets.
Every day, men and women of conscience step forward and “do the right thing.” Their phones get tapped, their computers files downloaded, their security clearances revoked. But day in day out, and at great personal risk, they:
- demand accurate reports of nuclear accident investigations;
- reveal that a commercial nuclear plan is not prepared for earthquakes;
- speak out about the ineffectiveness of law enforcement agencies;
- disclose the diversion of public funds to discontinued federal programs;
- refuse quick fixes on nuclear production lines;
We take great pride in our work on behalf of whistleblowers, who speak out at work and about their work to ensure that government agencies, public utilities, and powerful corporations alike are accountable to the public and the communities where they are located. Our experience representing whistleblowers has been invaluable for our clients.
Stories of fraud and over-charging in government contracts are legion. Less well-known are the qui tamprovisions of the False Claims Act, which permit an individual who knows about false and fraudulent claims in government contracting to proceed on behalf of the federal government. The False Claims Act also provides protection for individuals from retaliation for pursuing false claims. We have successfully pursued qui tamactions in a number of settings, in particular the Department of Energy and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.