Toi Patterson worked for Cushman & Wakefield for nine years as an administrative assistant and then senior administrator before she was fired for requesting a medical leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. Ms. Patterson had been diagnosed with breast cancer and asked for a reasonable accommodation to work part time while she underwent treatment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) charged that Ms. Patterson was fired by Cushman & Wakefield because of her disability rather than allow her to work part time or allow another reasonable accommodation be made to keep her employed.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, including unpaid leave or modifying the disabled employee’s work schedule, as long as doing so would not be a hardship for the company.
Cushman & Wakefield, a real estate services firm with a global profile, employs over 43,000 people and has revenues of $5 billion. The firm has now settled with Ms. Patterson and will pay her $100,000 in restitution.
As part of the settlement, Cushman & Wakefield must also comply with five additional terms: 1) the firm cannot violate the ADA again; 2) the firm must revise and distribute a reasonable accommodations policy to all employees; 3) the firm must provide annual training on the ADA to all supervisors, managers, and human resources employees; 4) the firm must notify all newly hired employees of the existence of the reasonable accommodations policy and the ADA, including examples of reasonable accommodations; and 5) the firm must report to the EEOC on its handling of complaints of disability discrimination.