AT&T Sued for Failure to Accommodate, Wrongful Termination

AT&T faces a legal action in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, from a former employee who claims she was wrongfully discharged due to her disability. The suit also alleges that AT&T failed to reasonably accommodate her disability while she still worked there and retaliated against her after she left.

In 2009 Lisa Castello was hired as an independent contractor by AT&T to work as a leasing specialist, according to the complaint. In 2013 she became an employee. She describes her job as including “various administrative, repetitive duties, such as abstracting, drafting, notarizing and reviewing real estate agreements.”

After suffering a stroke in 2013, Castello “had to undergo multiple surgeries, including open heart surgery,” according to the complaint. She also suffered lack of vision in her left eye, difficulty articulating thoughts and learning new material, memory loss, and a weakened left side of her body.

Castello claims that, since she had been performing the same duties as a leasing specialist since 2009, “she was able to continue on in her position . . . successfully and without issue, even as she developed cognitive impairments.” 

She did, however, require ongoing treatment, including physical and cognitive therapy and multiple medications. She also needed to take eight extended medical or Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leaves, according to the complaint.

After returning from those leaves Castello claims that she “felt singled out as if her job had been taken away from her because of the conduct and comments of her supervisor,” who threatened to discipline her and told her she “was too sick to do the job.”

After returning from another leave, Castello was told that she was to be transferred from the leasing specialist position to a new one, according to the complaint. She was concerned about the transfer because she had no experience in the new position, which was completely different from her current one. She claims she explained to AT&T that “she believed the transfer was outside of her capabilities due to her disabilities resulting from her medical conditions.”

Castello requested an accommodation and provided medical documentation and certification from her doctor, which “recommended an accommodation of maintaining her current duties and to not be given new and unfamiliar tasks.”

Two months after her request, Castello claims she never received a response, but instead was terminated. She filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC the next month. 

Six months after her discharge Castello got a new job with one of AT&T’s vendors. She claims it was virtually identical to the leasing specialist job she had before being fired. The job required her to gain access to AT&T’s computer system, which AT&T blocked. Castello claims this action was in retaliation for her EEOC charge.

Castello is represented by John Madden of Chicago.

Image Source: Mike Mozart (Flickr)