Veterinary Assistant Sues Q Street Animal Hospital for Disability Discrimination
April 14, 2016
Q Street Animal Hospital fired Brandi Lynnes (pronounced Lin-EZ) because she has bipolar disorder. On April 13, 2016, Lynnes filed a lawsuit in Lane County Circuit Court, alleging that Q Street Animal Hospital discriminated against her based on her disability, in violation of Oregon state law. Johnson Johnson & Schaller attorneys Meredith Holley and Jennifer Middleton represent Lynnes. The Complaint is available here.
Although Q Street Animal Hospital told Brandi Lynnes that it believed her job performance was “wonderful,” when it learned that she was experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder and needed to take time off to recover, it suspended her from work. Q Street then put Brandi Lynnes on forced “medical leave” and sent a letter, without authorization or permission, to her personal psychiatrist, saying that she would need a “written clearance” before she would be allowed to return to work. Although no doctor had restricted Ms. Lynnes from work, Q Street refused to let her return, refused to investigate discriminatory comments she reported, and instead discharged her.
Although she applied for work with other veterinary clinics, Ms. Lynnes found she was ostracized from the veterinary field, and she has been forced to find other work.
The Americans with Disabilities Act and Oregon law prohibit discrimination against an employee because of a mental impairment, such as bipolar disorder. Q Street’s suspension and firing of Brandi Lynnes is a classic example of the type of discrimination prohibited by law. The law also prohibits employers from contacting an employee’s medical provider, without permission, to inquire about the employee’s mental health. An employer must show it has a job-related reason in order to require an employee to undergo a medical evaluation.
The Complaint in this case alleges that Brandi Lynnes has experienced shame, anxiety, sleeplessness, and depression as a result of Q Street’s discrimination.