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Bias Suit Won by Employee

Staff Report
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March 27, 2007

Piscataway: A township woman has been awarded an $847,150 judgment after a jury found that Kelly Services Inc. failed to provide reasonable workplace accommodations in connection with her disability.

Deborah Brown, a Kelly branch manager diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000, had alleged that her managers, rather than accommodate her requests to assist her, created a workplace environment that worsened her condition.

The jury found Kelly had intentionally discriminated against Brown. The nine- person jury rendered its verdict on March 9 following a six-week trial in Middlesex County Superior Court.

Brown, who started with Kelly in 1991, was considered a stellar employee, receiving excellent reviews, according to one of her attorneys, Christopher Hager.

But after she alerted managers of her diagnosis, Brown said, the company ignored her requests for ergonomically correct office equipment. Managers also increased her face-to-face sales calls after she had asked for a reduction, Brown said. She soon found it impossible to do her job, her attorneys said.

Brown, 51, then was fired in early 2003 and filed the discrimination suit in February 2004, Hager said.

“Her multiple sclerosis was made worse when she found herself without income” and health insurance,” said Hager, who added that Brown was forced to sell her house to help pay her medical expenses.

While Hager, of the Morristown-based firm of Niedweske Barber, said he expects Kelly Services to appeal the judgment, he expects to once again prevail. “We’re very confident,” he said.