Sac Metro Firefighter Claims ADA Discrimination

A Sacramento Metro firefighter who developed epilepsy in 2006, has filed suit claiming that the department’s efforts to force her retirement were in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Shannon Baker, a 12 year veteran, suffered her first seizure in May of 2006. She returned to work a week later on light duty status, and full duty in August 2006. She suffered another seizure in December, 2006 and again was placed on light duty. In May, 2008 she was cleared to return to full duty by her neurologist but claims she was wrongfully placed on light duty status because of her disability.

In October, 2008 she was informed that the department intended to forcibly retire her effective November 1, 2008 on a “non-industrial disability”. When she refused to accept retirement she was placed on unpaid leave.

In February, 2009, Baker filed an EEOC complaint and following an investigation was allowed to return to full duty on February 7, 2011. In February, 2012 the EEOC concluded that Sac Metro had violated the ADA and in September, 2012 issued Baker a right to sue letter.

According to the complaint “Within a week after receiving a right to sue letter from the EEOC on September 6, 2012, Baker was and has been subjected to an unceasing stream of petty write-ups and admonishments which are wholly inconsistent with her work history and the way these “transgressions” are viewed as to every other employee. For example she was written up for talking too much and removing a loose thread off of a female co-worker’s shoulder.”

Baker filed suit on Tuesday in Federal District Court for the Eastern District of California alleging violations of the ADA, ADA retaliation, gender discrimination, and a violation of her due process rights.  The suit seeks damages for backpay and benefits, as well as damages for emotional pain and suffering.

Here is a copy of the complaint. Baker v Sac Metro

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer’s Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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