Jon Campisi Mar. 21, 2014, 7:14am


A disabled veteran who had worked as a childcare worker for a central

Pennsylvania residential youth facility for a yearlong period early last decade claims he was denied the opportunity to come back to work last year because of his disabilities.

Claude D. Rhodes, who resides in Franklin County, filed suit in the Middle District of Pennsylvania on March 18 against VisionQuest National LTD over claims that he was passed over for a position because he informed company officials during his job interview that he might need to take occasional days off of work to attend to his health.

The plaintiff, who is a disabled veteran suffering from arteriosclerotic heart disease, was first diagnosed with his disability back in 1997, the record shows.

The complaint states that Rhodes worked as a childcare worker at the defendant’s VisionQuest Academy at South Mountain, a structured residential program for males between the ages of 13 and 19 in Franklin County, from about June 2004 to June 2005.

Rhodes was disabled at the time, the suit states, but was nevertheless able to carry out his job duties without accommodation.

In early February of last year, Rhodes, referred by an employee of the defendant, completed an application to once again work for the company in the same capacity as before.

During the interview process, the complaint alleges, a representative of the company asked Rhodes if there was anything the defendant should know about him, to which the plaintiff replied that he would occasionally need to miss work for doctor’s appointments.

When pressed further, the plaintiff revealed that he was a disabled veteran of the U.S. military, the record shows.

At the same time, Rhodes never gave any indication that his disability would prevent him from carrying out his job duties.

“Plaintiff was aware that he would be able to perform the functions of a Child Care Worker without accommodation, other than occasionally needing to attend a doctor’s appointment, because he had previously worked for Defendant,” the complaint reads.

About a week after the interview, Rhodes was advised that he would not be hired because the defendant felt he would be a liability due to his disabled veteran status, the complaint states.

“Defendant did not enter into any interactive process with Plaintiff to determine what he would or would not be able to do with regard to the job in question,” the suit reads. “Defendant regarded Plaintiff as not being able to do the job because his impairment is permanent.”

The defendant is accused of disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In addition to declaratory judgment, Rhodes seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages along with lost wages and benefits, front pay, back pay, lost future earning capacity, liquidated damages for intentional, willful, malicious, reckless and outrageous conduct, and attorney’s fees and costs.

Rhodes is being represented by attorneys Larry A. Weisberg and Derrek W. Cummings of the Harrisburg firm McCarthy Weisberg Cummings P.C.

 

The federal case number is 1:14-cv-00517-JEJ.

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