Jon Allison’s Monday Blog
Last week, John Barrie, a staff services analyst for the California Department of Transportation, won a $ 3.3 million dollar verdict against CDT because it failed to accommodate his disability, subjected him to a hostile environment and retaliated against him when he complained. Barrie began working for CDT in 2005 and during the first week of his employment told his supervisors of his condition (severe allergies to perfumes and certain cleaning products). He was granted an informal accommodation which meant that CDT took steps to make sure perfumes and certain cleaning products were not near his work space. After 5 years of smooth sailing Barrie got a new supervisor in 2010. She was not interested in adhering to the informal accommodation. Barrie began having trouble with perfumes in his workplace and talked to his boss. She told him she didn’t want to hear it. So he started making internal complaints to human resources. Then he was told he was a trouble maker. He also faced retaliation. He came into work to find that his work space had been intentionally sprayed with perfume. A lumbar pillow was doused with perfume. He continued to complain. In 2012 CDT found during a surprise inspection that Barrie was being retaliated against via intentional spraying of his work area with perfume and placement of scented products in his work area. He was then relocated to another facility and told he had to do the janitorial work at that facility, which would require using cleaning products. He filed suit in 2013. The jury trial lasted 12 days and resulted in the several million dollar verdict. Now, CDT is letting Barrie perform his analyst duties from home. His attorney couldn’t believe it came to this. He didn’t think it would even get to the point of filing a lawsuit. All CDT had to do was keep perfumes and chemicals out of Barrie’s work space.
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