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Industry Company Must Pay $5.2 Million in Panic Attack Discrimination Case

The former employee sued Valley Vista Services and its parent corporation for reportedly firing her for a mental disability.

A woman today was awarded $5.2 million by a Los Angeles jury that found her former employer discriminated against her because of a mental disability and wrongfully fired her.

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury that had been deliberating since late Friday afternoon also concluded that Industry-based Valley Vista Services Inc. and its parent company, Zerep Management Corp., acted with malice toward 34- year-old April Rodriguez of Rancho Cucamonga.

The finding triggered a second phase beginning Thursday to determine if she should be awarded punitive damages, as well.

Rodriguez's attorneys maintained the waste disposal company, where Rodriguez worked as a customer service representative, failed to accommodate her because of her condition. Rodriguez testified she suffered often from panic attacks.

Lawyers for the company maintained their clients were never told the nature of Rodriguez's disability. They said she was fired in January 2010 for not calling her supervisors to explain an absence that lasted longer than three days. They said they asked the woman's then-husband, Henry Rodriguez, to relay a message to the plaintiff that her employers wanted to hear from her.

Henry Rodriguez also works for Valley Vista. He and the plaintiff are now divorced.

Defense attorneys also denied the plaintiff's assertion that Valley Vista failed to accommodate her in a way that would have allowed her to perform her duties.

P.K. Hegg February 14, 2013 at 01:32 AM
Let's get real..........why would any Jury award an amount of that size?? It is the Employee's responsibilty to notify their Employer of being Absent from work. It is also the Employees responsiblity to reveal any Medical situation that may be a problem at work. The Employer is within their rights to take her off their employment.
Vito Spago February 14, 2013 at 01:49 AM
It will be thrown out on appeal. Of course, that will never make the news.
notsomuch February 14, 2013 at 04:10 AM
Ridiculous.....
pamylla February 14, 2013 at 04:55 AM
$5.2 MILLION?? Are you SERIOUS?!?!?
Melanie R. Brooks February 14, 2013 at 08:03 PM
Only in California... Juror's should be required to pass a basic test in order to serve. Reputable companies are being penalized not only as a result of fraudulant claims, but also by the guidleines adherent to jury selection. Thank goodness for the appeals process. Sadly these lawsuits result in higher rates for we the people who actually are willing to work for a living.
Fun Times February 16, 2013 at 01:49 AM
This is a backwards company, corrupt on every level. Karma.

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