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Womble Carlyle is sued by EEOC over alleged 75-pound lifting requirement

Posted Jan 18, 2013 10:47 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sued Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice on behalf of a former office assistant who claims disability discrimination over a lifting requirement.

The suit (PDF) filed on behalf of Charlesetta Jennings says she suffered from a chronic swelling condition known as lymphedema as a result of treatments for breast cancer, the Am Law Daily reports. Jennings worked in the firm’s service centers and copying rooms at its North Carolina headquarters.

Jennings gave the law firm a doctor’s note in 2010 saying she could lift no more than 10 pounds because of her condition, and a new doctor’s note in 2011 putting the limit at 20 pounds, the complaint says. She maintains she was able to perform her job by dividing up the contents of heavy boxes and by using push carts.

Soon after she submitted the second note, the suit says, Womble Carlyle put Jennings on disability leave and then fired her six months later in August 2011. The human resources director allegedly informed Jennings the essential functions of her job included the ability to lift up to 75 pounds and to push carts weighing up to 700 pounds.

The EEOC alleges the law firm failed to provide a reasonable accommodation for Jennings’ disability. The Am Law Daily contacted Womble Carlyle chairman Keith Vaughan for comment. "We do not believe it would be appropriate to comment on Ms. Jennings' medical condition or the claim at this time," he said in a statement submitted to the publication.

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