$847,150 for Disability Bias

by Martin C. Daks
March 26, 2007

Brown v. Kelly Services Inc.: A Middlesex County jury awarded $847,150 on march 9 to a manager who claimed her employer did not provide her reasonable job accommodations for her multiple sclerosis.

Deborah Brown of Piscataway had worked for about 12 years, most recently as a branch manager, with Kelly Services Inc., a temporary staffing agency, according to her attorney, Christopher Hager of Niedweske Barber in Morristown, whose co-counsel was Kevin Barber.

Hager says that in 2000, shortly after being diagnosed with her ailment, Brown asked for ergonomically designed office equipment and fewer sales calls but her company declined the equipment request and increased the calls.

In February 2003, Kelly said Brown’s position had been eliminated and terminated her employment.

Of the total award, $47,150 was for lost wages and $800,000 for pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. She is not employed at present.

John Bennett and  Joseph DeBlasio of Roseland’s Connell Foley, who represented Kelly Servcies, did not return calls for comment. Hager says the company denied that Brown had requested accommodations for her disability.

Superior Court Judge Jessica Mayer presided at the trial.