As an attorney experienced in employment law, Tremain Mattress, an associate in the Trial Practice Group of Barrett & Farahany, LLP, LLP, is called upon to provide expert insights on groundbreaking and controversial discrimination cases. In November 2013, WSB-TV in Atlanta sought Mattress' opinion on a wrongful termination suit filed against the city of Alpharetta.In 2012, Michael “Matt” Green sued the city for unlawful discrimination. Green, a city worker, requested a transfer in his department as his diagnosis of fibromyalgia, a nervous system disorder, made it difficult to perform his current job duties. Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for someone with a disability, whether that is restructuring the job position, modifying his work schedule, or reassigning him to a vacant position.
According to Green, after learning his workload would be doubled, he approached his supervisors who told him he could move to a lower paying position. Green was asked by the city to get a statement from his doctor so they could better understand why accommodations needed to be made. However, after providing the information, Green was denied the transfer and his position at the city was terminated due to “poor work performance.” In turn, Green filed a claim against the city for discrimination.
WSB-TV reported that Green's lawyers noted that “[t]he city's actions violate the ADAAA which prohibits intentional discrimination on the basis of disability.” The city's attorneys responded that “[a]ny adverse action taken against the Plaintiff was done so in good faith without malice or reckless indifference to Plaintiff's protected rights.”
In November, the city settled with Green for $70,000, and the case did not go to trial. In the settlement, the city denied any wrongdoing.
For an expert opinion, WSB-TV interviewed Mattress, who had no affiliation with the case. Mattress believed the case had merit, and that Green's legal rights were violated. “More than likely that's why the city of Alpharetta decided to resolve this case in a settlement agreement,” he remarked to reporter Mile Petchenik. “It appears from the complaint that they were unwilling to accommodate his disability.”
Mattress noted that in many cases such as these, the employers most often settle. By settling, the city saved taxpayers thousands in litigation costs.
Said Mattress, “The benefit is you don't have to have a protracted litigation period. You don't have to go through a year or two years of a lawsuit.”
To view Mattress' interview in its entirety, visit the WSB-TV website.