El Cajon, California:
College District Held
Responsible for Disability Discrimination of an Employee
with Asperger’s Syndrome
41, has been a Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College
District (GCCCD) employee since 1996 with a history of
long-term steady employment, quality work performance
and active.orgmunity/campus involvement. She graduated
with honors and awards from Grossmont College, which is
part of GCCCD, and has been featured in GCCCD and city
publications both as a student and an employee.
In early 2002, L.K. disclosed her condition (Asperger’s
Syndrome) and intent to request an a.orgmodation under
ADA (transfer to a vacant position). After that, she was
subjected to disparate treatment, including but not
limited to premature termination of her family’s health
benefits, her voice mail having been depersonalized and
her e-mail account having been blocked.
Against its own written policy setting 30-day deadline
to respond to disability a.orgmodation requests, GCCCD
had stalled L.K.’s request for about 1.5 years,
withholding information about available vacant positions
to transfer. When the violation was pointed out, the
employer’s response was to modify the policy to
eliminate 30-day deadline. From now on, disabled GCCCD
employees who request a.orgmodations may have to wait
indefinitely for their request to be considered.
summer 2003, the employer left L.K. no choice but to
accept demotion and 45% pay cut as the only chance for
receiving an a.orgmodation. In October 2003, GCCCD
administration placed her on an indefinite “illness
leave” with no request for such leave from L.K., no
documented medical necessity and no authorization by
medical professionals. To this day, GCCCD does not allow
L.K. to return to work.
other college courses, GCCCD offers studies in
Disability Services Management. It also claims to be an
equal opportunity employer.
October 7, 2005, after a two-week trial, the El Cajon,
CA, jury awarded L.K. damages for lost wages, lost
benefits and mental distress in the total amount of
jury concluded that the employer subjected its employee
with disability to disparate treatment, and that GCCCD
failed to timely engage in an ADA interactive process in
good faith even after US Department of Education’s
Office of Civil Rights (DOE OCR) intervention and
request to.orgply with the law.
Gill, the plaintiff’s attorney,.orgments on the jury
jury saw here a.orgpetent, dedicated individual with
Asperger's Syndrome whose needs and contributions were
discounted by her employer. And they held the employer
responsible. People with developmental disabilities
take note, there is a place for you in the workplace.
Your skills and intelligence and effort can make a
dramatic difference at work. Do not give up!"
www.lathegill.org ) is a California-based lawyer
practicing law on behalf of people with disabilities.
Expert witness Cynthia Norall, Ph.D., an
educational and behavioral consultant, the founder and
Clinical Director of Comprehensive Autism Services and
Education, Inc. (also known as C.A.S.E., Inc.
www.casefamily.org ) offered her testimony and
educated the court about Asperger’s syndrome and autism
a licensed educational psychologist and a nationally
certified cognitive behavior therapist,
consults and gives expert testimony both locally, in
California, and internationally. She’s worked with
hundreds of clients on autism spectrum, and uses many
techniques valuable for teaching social understanding
skills that can easily be applied in the classroom and
in the workplace setting. Among other educational
methods, she offers through C.A.S.E. social skills
therapy groups, called Friends' Club®, as
well as Asperger’s Syndrome support groups for young
adults, and develops appropriate educational programs.
She and her team of therapists meet with small groups of
children/teens in a clinical setting to teach social
dissertation included research in parent's perspectives
regarding educational resources for children with autism.
Dr. Norall.orgments, “CASE, Inc. is
pleased with Mrs. K.’s success in ove.orging
discrimination in the workplace. At CASE, Inc. we
celebrate people with Asperger's Syndrome for all that
they have contributed to who we are as a society. We
hope that the challenges Mrs. K. has ove.orge can lead
to better understanding and acceptance of people with
Asperger's Syndrome so that such discrimination never
Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) is a neurodevelopmental
condition related to the autism spectrum. Affected
individuals (usually of normal or above average
intelligence, capable of intense focus, strong attention
to detail, painstaking adherence to policies and
procedures, unorthodox problem-solving and high
productivity in the areas of their interests and
aptitudes) are prone to motor coordination impairments,
sensory oversensitivities, have difficulty interacting
socially along “unwritten rules”, reading nonverbal
language or navigating workplace politics, may prefer
solitary activities and are often viewed as eccentric.
As a tragic result, many end up un- or underemployed and
on the receiving end of prejudice, bullying, negative
stereotyping, harassment and discrimination.
case and its ou.orge has resonated widely throughout
autism spectrum and anti-bullying.orgmunities,
triggering an international interest and a letter
campaign from those concerned about rights, dignity and
well-being of citizens on autism spectrum.
jury verdict was met with the following.orgments: