Washtenaw County was recently hit with a gender and disability discrimination lawsuit by one of its employees.
Washtenaw County, Michigan is at the center of a lawsuit filed by a woman working in the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission’s maintenance division. According to the woman, Kathleen Squiers, she has been the victim of gender and sex-based discrimination. On top of that, she alleges the county failed to accommodate her disability.
According to the suit, Squires is one of the only women employed with the county’s maintenance division, where she has worked as a horticulturist for 22 years. The suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court, claims she was “passed over for more lucrative work opportunities offered to her male coworkers while being given more difficult jobs.” The complaint further states the county “denied medical accommodations recommended by a doctor for an aneurysm-related disability, and instead placed her on unpaid status and forced her to use leave time she needed for another health condition.”
While she is currently still employed by the county, she is on leave. When commenting on the situation, Squiers’ attorney, Scott Batey, said, “Ideally she’ll be returned to work with her accommodation and they will stop harassing her…They’ll make her whole.”
What sort of disability does Squiers have, though? According to the lawsuit, Squiers was diagnosed with a medical condition back in April 2021 and as a result, her doctor “recommended a limit be placed on the amount of weight she could lift at work.” The suit notes that, fortunately, “Squiers rarely had to lift anything over those limitations and when she did, she would receive assistance from co-workers.” Her physician also put together a report for her employer that said Squiers “would be able to fulfill the responsibilities outlined in her job description.” Sounds good, right?
Unfortunately, the county refused to accommodate her disability and disregarded the note from her doctor, according to the suit. As a result, Squiers was forced on unpaid leave where she had to waste the “yearly 12 weeks of Family and Medical Leave Act time she had previously relied on for asthma attacks.”
That’s not even mentioning the gender and sex-based discrimination she allegedly endured. According to the complaint, Squiers “observed male coworkers called in during the COVID-19 pandemic to perform outdoor work paid at twice the normal rate…But she wasn’t given the same opportunity.” Additionally, her supervisor “gave her more difficult assignments without offering the same opportunities for promotion and pay offered to male colleagues.”
As a result of her treatment, Squiers is seeking damages in the excess of $75,000.