Appeals Court Upholds Firing of Poor-Performing Customer Service Rep

The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has upheld a lower court’s ruling in favor of a company that was sued for firing a customer service representative who was hurt in a car accident and was one of the lowest-ranked employees in the office after it was accused of discriminating against the employee because of her disability and retaliating against her for the accommodations it had to make for her to continue working.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Holmes-Mergucz v. Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff was one of the lowest-ranked customer service representatives in her office, placing 176th out of 180 employees, as a result of missing deadlines, falling short of quotas, and leaving customers dissatisfied. As well, she often worked unapproved overtime and left work early. She was put on multiple performance improvement plans.

In 2016, she was seriously injured in a car accident. She obtained a medical leave from work for seven months and then because working from home. But the mistakes and disrespectful attitude continued. In late 2017, she and one other employee in her division were let go. She sued, alleging the defendant discriminated against her because of her disability. A District Court judge granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

The plaintiff was not performing well before her injury, the Appeals Court noted. The plaintiff even admitted that she was less skilled than others in her department. Plus, she was fired as a result of the defendant’s decision to cut costs, which had nothing to do with the plaintiff’s injury.

The plaintiff “suffered twice, first in a car crash and then being fired,” the Appeals Court wrote. “Both hardships were surely difficult. But especially considering her poor job performance before her injury, no reasonable jury could conclude that Verizon would have made a different decision if she had never asked for disability accommodations.”

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