Figueroa v. Springfield Transit Management,Mass.

A complainant bus driver alleged that her employer failed to accommodate her handicap (asthma) and terminated her based on her asthma-related absences.  The MCAD Hearing Commissioner (Gomez) ordered the employer to pay Figueroa lost wages plus $20,000 in emotional distress damages, finding that she had to retrieve paperwork from the started shack and warm up the bus in the garage before she began each shift.  “Because many employees smoked cigarettes in the starter shack and the garage, Complainant was exposed to direct cigarette smoke prior to commencing her daily route.  This exposure caused Complainant to experience asthma symptoms at the beginning of each shift..”  A month before she was terminated, the employer warned her that “if she continued to be absent from work, she would be discharged.”  The Hearing Commissioner found that the termination “was a direct result of Respondent’s refusal to accommodate her handicap,” which, along with the termination, constituted “unlawful handicap discrimination under G.L. c. 151B…”

Commission Against Discrimination, Docket No. 94-SEM-0726, 29 Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly 1533 (2001).