Blind Woman Sues California Hospital for Employment Discrimination
National Federation of the Blind Assisting in Litigation
San Francisco, California (July 26, 2018): Alina Sorling worked for ten years as a food service technician at Mercy Medical Center in Redding, California until she went blind from an illness. After successful rehabilitation in which she learned to manage her home and perform the duties of her job as a blind person, she sought reasonable accommodations from her employer to return to work. Instead, she was fired.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Ms. Sorling have filed suit in the federal District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that Dignity Health, the parent company of Mercy Medical Center, unlawfully discriminated against Ms. Sorling, violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal and state laws. The National Federation of the Blind, the nation's leading advocate for the equal employment of blind people, is aiding in the litigation.
Ms. Sorling's lawsuit alleges that she was fired because she did not meet a new vision requirement that Dignity Health claims applies to its food service technicians. Yet, the suit alleges, Ms. Sorling's vision was never tested in all the time she worked for the hospital, nor has such a vision requirement been applied to other food service technicians there.
"Today marks the twenty-eighth anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act," said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. "Yet we still find employers discriminating against the blind, basing their decisions on fears rather than on facts. Many blind people work in food service jobs every day, using the kinds of reasonable accommodations that Dignity Health did not even consider before firing an employee with ten years of service. Alina Sorling's capabilities have not changed; only her vision has. We will fight for her rights, her dignity, and her ability to do the work she is qualified to do and live the life she wants."
"My termination has been a severe blow to me, not only financially but also emotionally," said Alina Sorling. "I have worked hard to be an asset to my employer. It is unfortunate that my former employer could not see the value that I brought to my work."
Ms. Sorling is represented by Timothy Elder of the TRE Legal Practice of Freemont, CA, and Scott C. Labarre of LaBarre Law offices of Denver.