Attorney said he was fired because of a nerve compression disability.
Former Arent Fox attorney, Cornell Crosby, filed a lawsuit alleging his “nerve-compression disability led the law firm to reduce his assignments, change his job duties, and then terminate his employment.” Crosby had been an intellectual property lawyer. He filed the disability discrimination suit in state court in Los Angeles and is seeking “$300,000 in economic damages, along with damages for emotional distress.”
The suit says Arent Fox “violated California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). FEHA applies to public and private employers, labor organizations and employment agencies, according to the state.” It indicates, “It is illegal for employers of five or more employees to discriminate against job applicants and employees because of a protected category or retaliate against them because they have asserted their rights under the law.” FEHA also “prohibits harassment based on a protected category against an employee, an applicant, an unpaid intern or volunteer, or a contractor.”
Crosby began working at the firm in April 2017 at a salary of $225,000 per year. He started to experience pain in his left forearm in August 2017, as well as weakness, numbness and tingling in two of his fingers. Sitting for long periods of time was eventually unbearable and he could not complete basic daily tasks such as buttoning a shirt or holding a glass of water. An MRI found the pain was due to nerve compression on in his left arm.
The first procedure failed, and following his physician’s advice, Crosby requested a medical leave from January 2018 through August 2018. When he returned, according to the lawsuit, “a questionnaire completed by his medical provider indicated that he could not engage in prolonged writing, typing and sitting. The questionnaire suggested that Crosby begin by working a part-time schedule, with a return to full-time work after a doctor’s evaluation.”
At that point, Crosby was told he would be working on patent responses rather than drafting work. Crosby “requested accommodations that included a standing desk, dictation software, and the ability to take breaks when needed.” The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), “requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer (undue hardship).” It also indicates, “Disability discrimination also occurs when a covered employer or other entity treats an applicant or employee less favorably because he or she has a history of a disability.” The attorney has alleged he was given little work despite overworked colleagues.
Crosby was forced to undergo a second surgery and took short-term disability leave from February 2019 through May 2019, and in June 2019, he was told his position was being eliminated because the work he was doing had “dried up.”
“As a result of Arent Fox’s wrongful termination, Mr. Crosby has suffered severe emotional distress,” the lawsuit reads. “Since his termination, Mr. Crosby has found it difficult to deal with his feelings of anguish and humiliation.”
Arent Fox released a statement saying, “We are aware of this lawsuit, and its claims are meritless.”