Oakland Settles Discrimination Case: Seizures

Captain Vicky Evans-Robinson, 55,  who worked as a spokeswoman for the Oakland Fire Department, recently settled a disability discrimination lawsuit with the city for $245,000. The law suit had alleged that the department refused to allow Evans-Robinson to return to active duty on three occasions from 2005 to 2008, following seizure episodes despite medical clearance from her neurologist.

City officials denied the allegations and said that they provided Evans-Robinson with time off for her medical condition so that she would be able to perform her duties without endangering herself or others. Robinson has been back to work since last year and now works with the hazardous materials division.

On November 13, 2009, Judge Ronni MacLaren ruled in Alameda County Superior Court that the city was not liable for disability discrimination but left it to the jury to decide if Evans-Robinson was subjected to "adverse employment actions because of a medical condition." Choosing not to risk a jury verdict, the city agreed to compensate  Robinson  with $245,000. The council is expected to formally ratify the agreement on Dec. 8.

For more on this story.

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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