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Plaintiff Seeks Damages Under California Insurance Law

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Sacramento, CAWhen an individual has an identified disability and is denied disability insurance in spite of an obvious need and qualification, the denial is an affront to sound moral judgment as well as California Insurance Law. But now here is a case about an individual with a disability who worked for an insurance company and was allegedly refused reasonable accommodations related to her disability.

According to court documents from the US District Court for the Eastern District of California, the plaintiff in a disability lawsuit against The Hartford claims in her action that her former employer rejected reasonable accommodations that might have made her life on the job a bit easier.

The plaintiff, according to court documents, is a registered nurse with over a dozen years of patient case management experience. The plaintiff also has a unique disability stemming from an injury to her sphincter during childbirth - an injury that could not be improved or eradicated through surgical intervention. The result is chronic fecal incontinence for which the plaintiff requires immediate access to washroom facilities.

According to court documents, the plaintiff commenced employment with The Hartford in Rancho Cordova, California, on April 10, 2006, as a Nurse Case Manager in the Workers’ Compensation Unit, located on the second floor of a three-story building. It is undisputed that the plaintiff, at the time of her application and hiring, did not disclose her disability.

However, the plaintiff claimed a team leader at The Hartford communicated to her that the company would be transitioning to a remote system within the year, allowing telephone nurses to work from home.

While it was not stated in court records, one could reasonably assume that given her unique disability, the opportunity for the plaintiff to work from home would prove attractive given the extreme measure often required to manage her disability.

In reality, The Hartford completed work to facilitate transition to a remote system by incorporating documents and medical records to an online system via secure access, but not until 2009, and two years after the plaintiff parted ways with her employer.

According to court documents, the plaintiff made numerous requests - backed by medical documentation and reports from her doctors - for accommodations that would allow the plaintiff to better manage her condition once she revealed her disability to her employer. Amongst other accommodations, the plaintiff requested that she be provided with a cubicle closer to a washroom, or alternatively, a workstation on the floor below where there were shower facilities available.

Failing that, she asked for use of a private office that included washroom facilities. Alternatively, she asked for the capacity to work from home.

According to court documents, all accommodation requests were considered, but denied by her employer. While the plaintiff was never formally terminated, the plaintiff alleges in court records that on two occasions the plaintiff’s supervisors at The Hartford intoned that perhaps the plaintiff might be happier working somewhere else. Just prior to her resignation from The Harford, the plaintiff was informed that her “scores” as an NCM were slipping and that she had used up all of her personal time-off credits, and that further absences would be considered as unexcused absences.

On July 2, roughly 15 months after the plaintiff commenced her employment with The Hartford, the plaintiff claimed in court documents that a superior raised the possibility of the plaintiff taking a job elsewhere. The following day, July 3, disciplinary action was started related to the plaintiff’s performance scores and absenteeism.

The plaintiff submitted her resignation July 12, 2007, effective July 31 of that year. However, she quit the following day citing the humiliation and mistreatment she had endured.

The plaintiff launched a lawsuit against her former employer, which was originally filed with the Superior Court of the State of California in and for the County of Sacramento, and moved to the US District Court, Eastern District of California where the defendant moved for summary judgment.

On September 24, 2013, Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment or Alternatively for Partial Summary Judgment (ECF No. 42) was denied in its entirety by Morrison C. England Jr., Chief Judge for the Court. The plaintiff can now proceed with her damages claim under California Insurance Law.

In this case, rather than seeking California insurance claim help through an insurance disability policy, the plaintiff was seeking active help from the insurance company that served as her employer - help that the plaintiff asserts was consistently and systematically denied her.

The case is Linda K. DesRosiers, Plaintiff v. The Hartford aka Hartford Fire Ins. Co., Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., and DOES 1 through 20, inclusive, Defendants. Case No. 2:09-cv-2057-MCE-GGH.


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