When workplace injuries occur, employers have a common law duty to provide some semblance of accommodations to the injured employee. If an employer is found liable for failure to accommodate, the compensatory and punitive damages can quickly add up to a large sum. Such an incident has caused Time Warner to seek a new trial regarding a lawsuit brought by one of its former warehouse workers.
On June 12, plaintiff Patricia Hancock of Compton, California won a $2.7 million judgment after a jury found that Time Warner failed to accommodate her for an on-the-job injury. The Los Angeles Superior Court jury, however, rejected her causes of action for wrongful termination, retaliation, disability discrimination and defamation. Despite the jury’s verdict, Time Warner sought favorable judgment through post-trial remedies arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support Hancock’s claims for failure to accommodate, failure to engage in the interactive process and the award of punitive damages.
According to a Los Angeles Daily News article, the jury awarded $692,545 in compensatory damages and a little over $2 million in punitive damages.
Part of Hancock’s job at Time Warner’s Bellflower warehouse was to pull pallets of cable boxes weighing hundreds of pounds.She claimed that, at the age of 59, she suffered a neck injury in August of 2011 and reported it to her supervisor who brushed off the report. Upon getting home, she took a Hydrocodone painkiller she had left over from a prior surgery. Subsequently, Hancock was unable to pick up her granddaughter from after-school activities, cook for herself, or wash dishes that day. The next day, she requested leave time from her supervisor, who told her to come in for a drug test.
After receiving the results, the supervisor reported to Time Warner human resources that Hancock tested positive for illegal drugs and thereby violated the company’s drug-free policy. Hancock was fired less than two weeks after reporting her disability.
If you or a family member has suffered a workplace injury and need legal assistance, please email us at email@example.com or call 617-787-3700 now to speak with one of our Massachusetts personal injury and tort law specialists.