The Maryland Department of Health is facing a lawsuit from former employee Aaron Williams over alleged violations of the Rehabilitation Act. The lawsuit, which was filed Friday in the District of Maryland, detailed the defendant’s alleged disregard for the disabilities and limitations of the plaintiff which should have been protected under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
According to the filing, Williams formerly worked for the defendant in their Cost Accounting and Reimbursements Division as an administrative assistant. Throughout his time working at the Maryland Department of Health, Williams maintained that he “always performed his job duties in a competent manner and met the Division’s reasonable expectations.”
Williams had numerous physical disabilities, including asthma, being a pre-diabetic, and being moderately obese. Because of these conditions, it can be difficult at times for him to walk up and down stairs, exercise, walk long distances, and more. This, coupled with his family history of asthma and disability, places him at a high risk for contracting COVID-19, the plaintiff claimed.
Due to his perceived heightened risk of COVID-19, Williams was able to obtain a telework disability accommodation from a doctor in March 2020. In September 2020, William’s supervisor, Deborah Brown-Demery, began engaging in “harassing attempts to force him to return to the office.” She explained that he needed to provide her a doctor’s note that said he would be able to return to the office for two days per week. Williams’ doctor refused to provide the note.
Following this, Williams claimed that he began to be targeted and “excessively scrutinized” at work. Eventually in December 2020, he was placed on medical leave despite his continued statements to the company that he could continue to work remotely. They ignored these statements and forced him to remain on medical leave. After obtaining a new doctor’s note that elongated his need to telework, Williams’ sent the note to his supervisor since his medical leave period ended on January 11, 2021. Despite logging on and awaiting to be signed work on both January 11 and 12, the plaintiff was terminated on January 13, 2021.
Since the defendant was aware of the plaintiff’s disabilities and risks, he claimed he has been “discriminated and retaliated against due to his disability and for being regarded as having a disability, in violation of the Rehabilitation Act.”
The complaint cited claims for failure to make reasonable accommodations under the rehabilitation act and rehabilitation act discrimination. As a result of this, the plaintiff is seeking an order enjoining the defendant from engaging in similar conduct in the future, damages, reinstatement, and any other relief deemed necessary by the Court.
The plaintiff is represented by Ray Legal Group.