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$950,000 Settlement For A Restaurant Manager Who Claimed Disability Discrimination By His Employer

Our client was a 29-year-old manager at a New York City restaurant owned by a large restaurant group. He worked for 2 and ½ months without incident and with positive reviews. Then, one night after works hours, our client was seriously injured when he was a pedestrian that was struck by a bus. The injuries he suffered caused him to be hospitalized for over 1 month and disabled from work for a number of months. While in the hospital recovering from his injuries, the Defendant restaurant group fired him, terminating his employment. Later, they claimed they offered him a job whenever he was physically ready to work again.

We brought a lawsuit on the employee’s behalf, claiming that this restaurant group violated New York State and New York City Human Rights Laws as they pertain to disability discrimination. Specifically, we claimed that the employer should have, but failed to, interact with our client in an effort to provide him a reasonable accommodation to his disability. We argued that the restaurant, in this instance, should have offered our client to remain employed with a period of unpaid leave of up to 6 months. We further claimed that by terminating the Plaintiff when it did, his employer deprived him of his ability to enroll in the company’s health insurance benefits plan, for which he would have become eligible a mere 2 weeks after his termination. As such, our client was left in a hospital bed, despondent, battling his injuries without a job or any health insurance. It was clear to him that he needed a law firm to stand up to this wealthy and powerful restaurant group. He contacted Block O’Toole & Murphy and retained them to fight and protect his rights.

The client did make a strong recovery from his injuries, and resumed work for a different employer, within one year of his accident. This lawsuit sought damages for the Plaintiff’s emotional distress that resulted from his termination, as well as approximately $33,000 of unpaid hospital bills that Plaintiff claimed would have been covered under the company’s health insurance plan, had he been provided an opportunity to enroll.

The Defendant employer vigorously contested liability from the case’s inception through trial. The defense made two motions to dismiss the case, both of which were opposed by our firm and both of which were denied by the Court. The defense pursued an appeal of one such decision, attempting to persuade the appellate court to dismiss our client’s case. We opposed and argued the appeal and we again prevailed, with the appellate court finding that our client’s claims indeed had merit and warranted a jury trial. The case did ultimately proceed to a jury trial, which was handled by Partner David L. Scher and the firm’s of-counsel employment lawyer Ravi Sattiraju. During the trial, Mr. Scher and Mr. Sattiraju successfully cross-examined numerous high level executives of the company about their handling of this client, as well as the restaurant group’s general policies and protocols when dealing with disabled employees.

The Defendant restaurant group’s settlement offer at the start of the trial was only $10,000. However, based upon the way the trial unfolded, and very shortly before the close of evidence, the Defendant company succumbed to Plaintiff’s demand by increasing its offer by 95 times and settling the case for $950,000.

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