On May 15, 2012, in Jacobsen v. Dillon Cos. d/b/a King Soopers, District of Colorado Case No. 10-cv-01944-LTB-BNB, the lawyers at Benezra & Culver prevailed on a disability discrimination claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) on behalf of its client, Julie Jacobsen.
Plaintiff Julie Jacobsen was a probationary Retail Investigator for King Soopers when she was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer and told she would need 18 weeks of chemotherapy. When Ms. Jacobsen revealed her diagnosis to King Soopers, she was immediately disciplined for the first time and had her probation extended. Weeks later, while Ms. Jacobsen was away from work for a surgery to place her chemotherapy port, King Soopers fired her over the phone. Even though Ms. Jacobsen repeatedly requested that King Soopers accommodate her need for chemotherapy by transferring her to a less physically demanding position in retail or granting her medical leave, King Soopers never considered making any accommodation because of its mistaken belief that it was not required to accommodate a probationary employee.
At trial, Ms. Jacobsen proved that she was a “qualified person with a disability” who had a right to reasonable accommodation under the ADA and that King Soopers had failed to offer available reasonable accommodations to Ms. Jacobsen. Ms. Jacobsen also proved that King Soopers’ head of Employee and Labor Relations, who made the recommendation to terminate Ms. Jacobsen, acted with reckless disregard for Ms. Jacobsen’s federally protected rights, entitling her to an award of punitive damages.
After a five-day trial before U.S. District Judge Lewis T. Babcock, a nine-person jury returned a verdict in favor of Ms. Jacobsen. The jury awarded Ms. Jacobsen $23,000 in economic damages and $65,000 in punitive damages, with the Court to determine front pay and attorney fees.