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Cowgirl Lawyer
Cowgirl Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 1422
Experience:  Attorney for 22 years. Labor and Employment. Former Administrative Law Judge.
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I was a college professor at a public institution. I told

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I was a college professor at a public institution. I told my HR department that I have a disability and would like "reasonable accommodations". I provided medical documentation within the first 2 weeks of the college semester (of my third year of employment).

The "reasonable accommodation" I sought was to opt-out of a non-teaching assignment. The assignment was done in exchange for "release-time" of 2 out of my normal 15 credits (full-time). I performed this role for two full years prior to my request. And during the semester I made the request, I accepted no pay or release time for this role.

However, despite several additional requests, both oral and written (I can document), I was fired because I would not sign a document insisting that I improve my performance for this self-same role. (An e-mail documents this "intent to not renew contract" for refusal/reluctance to sign it.)

Please note, also that I received excellent performance reviews for all other teaching matters (have documents) and for the two years prior, BUT that at the end of the 2nd academic year, I sought to opt out of the non-teaching role (citing a desire to focus on teaching). My job was threatened, a grievance filed. I won the grievance (though there was some lack of clarity, as part of this non-teaching function I performed was not mentioned in the contract and could no be accounted for in terms of resolution before the semester ended.)

However, my contract for the year ahead had already been renewed, some two months before the grievance process. So, based on these facts, would you say I have "reasonable cause" to believe that my rights re: ADA and retaliation were violated, and as such were taken into account by the college in its actions to terminate my employment?

ONLY this non-teaching role was criticized in the summary evaluation and "performance improvement" document that I did not signed--the reason cited for my termination. ALL my faculty peer, student, and Dean evaluations note my exemplary skills as Assistant Professor. Every single contract I have is renewed under the title Assistant Professor, 10-month.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Cowgirl Lawyer replied 3 years ago.
Hello!

Whether you have a good claim will depend upon several factors which cannot be answered definitively here. To get a thorough analysis of your case, you really need to have at least a one hour in-office consultation with a civil rights attorney. What I can do for you, however, is to give you more information about the law so that you are better informed about the EEOC process, and so that you can decide whether you want to also meet with an attorney for an in-depth consultation. Of course, since you have already filed with the EEOC, you have probably read this fact sheet, but I include a link in case you have not yet read it.

First, in order to have a claim, you must be disabled under the law. Not every serious medical condition is a legal disability. To constitute a legal disability, your condition must "substantially limit a major life activity" such as such as hearing, seeing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, caring for yourself, learning or working. Only if you are legally disabled can we move to the next question, of whether the accomodation you requested was reasonable.

In order to be covered by the ADA the employee must not only meet the legal requirements for a disability, but still able to do all of the essential functions of the job with reasonable accomodations. Frequently, in addition to teaching, faculty members are required to do "service" work for the university.The question will become whether this non-teaching work is an essential function of a faculty job at this particular institution. Assuming you are legally disabled, the outcome of your case will likely hinge upon this issue.

If the non-teaching work is not an essential function of a faculty job at this institution, then it is possible that you made a request for a reasonable accomodation, in asking to be relieved of this non-teaching work. Reasonable accomodations can include restructuring the job so as to remove non-essential duties.

I will be happy to clarify my answer if you need me to do so.

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Good luck and best wishes!

Cowgirl Lawyer

IMPORTANT: I am not your attorney, and we do not have an attorney-client relationship. I am not responsible for your legal rights. My function here is to provide education to the public so that people can understand the law. If you accept my answer, you are accepting educational information. Please remember that this is a public forum. Anything you discuss here is not protected by attorney-client privilege. Do not take any action or fail to take action based upon our discussion here. I am an experienced attorney licensed in Illinois, but I do not hold myself out as an "expert" in any area of law (Illinois does not recognize such attorney specializations). Any representation to the contrary by JustAnswer is in error. You should consult with an attorney in your area for specific advice relevant to your situation.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you. I do have a verifiable disability AND the non-teaching assignment--as all non-teaching assignments--based on the Faculty contract language is not mandatory each year. "The Board does not expect each faculty member to perform every function every year."....and further ""The Board is reponsible for ensuring that individual workloads and objectives are developed in full consideration of individual faculty talents, interest, and professional goals..." So considering I was experiencing an especially difficult bout of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I feel pretty confident now that I deserved to be released from this role which could only be handled as an "overload" of hours/pay, based on the allotted release time. In addition, while I sought reasonable accommodation to release this role, I did as much of it as I can, under duress...ultimately I only became more ill...so I have other concerns about Workmen's Compensation and being fired over being properly accommodated.

Thank you very much for your careful and thoughtful answer, and your experience matters a lot. And, by the way, when I was a kid in St. Thomas, my dad was called Cowboy and many of his friends called me, COWGIRL!!!

Have a beautifully, productive day!
Monique S. XXXXXXXX@XXXXXX.XXX
(XXX) XXX-XXXX
Expert:  Cowgirl Lawyer replied 3 years ago.
Hello!

You are welcome!

You mention that you have a concern about Workmen's Compensation. Have you also filed a W.C. claim? You should at least consult with a local workers' compensation attorney about your claim. While it is sometimes possible to deal with such a claim without counsel, the outcome is generally better with counsel. The good news is that workers' compensation attorneys will review your claim for free and, if they take your case, will charge a contingency fee. That means that you do not have to come up with a retainer or attorney's fees out of pocket. Rather, the attorney would be paid a percentage of whatever settlement or award you receive for your claim.

I will be happy to clarify my answer if you need me to do so.

If not, please click ACCEPT. I do not get paid for my work unless you click ACCEPT. Like you, I cannot work for free.

Your positive feedback wins me points and costs you but a moment of time. A "bonus" awards me for an especially good job.

Next time you visit Just Answer, please ask for me by name by starting your question with "For Cowgirl Lawyer."

Good luck and best wishes!

Cowgirl Lawyer

IMPORTANT: I am not your attorney, and we do not have an attorney-client relationship. I am not responsible for your legal rights. My function here is to provide education to the public so that people can understand the law. If you accept my answer, you are accepting educational information. Please remember that this is a public forum. Anything you discuss here is not protected by attorney-client privilege. Do not take any action or fail to take action based upon our discussion here. I am an experienced attorney licensed in Illinois, but I do not hold myself out as an "expert" in any area of law (Illinois does not recognize such attorney specializations). Any representation to the contrary by JustAnswer is in error. You should consult with an attorney in your area for specific advice relevant to your situation.

Cowgirl Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 1422
Experience: Attorney for 22 years. Labor and Employment. Former Administrative Law Judge.
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