Rose Kallor, LLP is pleased to announce that it has secured dismissals in two CHRO (Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities) disability discrimination cases for the Town of Westport Pension Board and the Orange Board of Education respectively.
The cases—Lombardi v. Town of Westport Pension Board and Poulimas v. Orange Board of Education—were dismissed after a Public Hearing and a Fact-Finding Hearing, respectively.
Lombardi, a former firefighter in the Westport Fire Department, had hearing loss and brought a complaint alleging that he was improperly denied a disability pension upon his retirement in violation of the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Consistent with the Pension Board's policy, Lombardi was directed to get three independent medical examinations from physicians selected by the Pension Board to determine whether his disability qualified him for the disability pension he sought. Lombardi failed to get the three required examinations and, subsequently, the Pension Board denied his request for a disability pension. The two examinations Lombardi did complete suggested that he was able to substantially perform most of his job requirements.
After a public hearing and subsequent briefing, the CHRO dismissed the complaint after finding that Lombardi was not a “qualified individual” within the meaning of Title II because he lacked the three medical examinations. The CHRO found that the requirement of three independent examinations was an "essential eligibility requirement" for the pension and not simply a “rule, policy, or practice” that could be modified or was subject to any duty to accommodate, and found that Lombardi had failed to meet the requirements for a disability pension.
The CHRO also held that, under Title II, he was not denied the pension “because of” his disability but because the independent medical examinations he did complete affirmed that he could continue with most of the responsibilities of his position.
In Poulimas, the CHRO dismissed the matter after a Fact-Finding Hearing and issued a finding of No Reasonable Cause. Poulimas, a former part-time janitor for the school district, alleged that the Orange Board of Education had failed to promote him and terminated his employment on the basis of his disability. Poulimas applied for a position and was not selected and alleged that he had been told that he was not promoted “because of his mental disorders.”
After asking whether he had been terminated from existing position, Poulimas was explicitly told that he had not been fired but continued to insist that he had been terminated. Shortly thereafter, Poulimas informed his employer that he “knew that n---- got the job” and expressed his belief that the individual ultimately promoted—an African-American man—had “used the race card” to secure the promotion.
In finding No Reasonable Cause, the CHRO found that the candidate hired over Poulimas was more qualified for the position, that Poulimas never sought nor was denied a reasonable accommodation for his disability, and that Poulimas was never terminated from his position, which barred any finding of an adverse employment action. The CHRO also found that even though he was not terminated at the time, his use of racist language made him unemployable by the Board of Education—in any capacity—going forward.
In dismissing the complaint at fact-finding, the CHRO also found that Poulimas' testimony was “riddled with inconsistencies and contrary to the allegations raised in his complaint.”
Questions concerning the Lombardi matter should be directed to counsel for the Town of Westport Pension Board, Michael J. Rose of Rose Kallor, LLP. Attorney Rose can be reached at 860.361.7999. Questions concerning the Poulimas matter should be directed to counsel for the Orange Board of Education, Andrew B.F. Carnabuci of Rose Kallor, LLP. Attorney Carnabuci can be reached at 860.361.7999.
About Rose Kallor:
Rose Kallor, LLP is a labor and employment law firm with offices in Hartford, Connecticut and New York, New York. Rose Kallor concentrates its practice in the representation of public and private-sector employers, individuals, and municipalities in the New England and New York Metropolitan area. Committed to high-quality, professional representation, the attorneys at Rose Kallor stand ready to provide legal counsel on all aspects of employment and labor law. For more about Rose Kallor, visit our website at https://www.rosekallor.com/.