City of Merced Pays $425k to Settle Disability Discrimination Complaint

According to an article in the Merced Sun-Star, the City of Merced recently agreed to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit for $425,000.00.

The Merced Fire Department offered Ryan Staiger a job as a firefighter. After being offered the job, the City reneged on its offer claiming that Staiger suffered from “residual affects” from a broken arm he suffered as a teenager.

The article notes that Staiger had “several medical exams” after the offer of employment. Two physicians concluded that Staiger could not perform the essential functions of his job as a firefighter because of limited range of motion in Staiger’s right wrist and elbow.

Staiger then filed a DFEH complaint alleging disability discrimination. Staiger then got a job with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection where he is a wilderness firefighter.

This, DFEH argued, demonstrated that the City of Merced failed to establish that Staiger could not perform the essential functions of a firefighter.

Apparently, a judge determined that the City of Merced violated Staiger’s rights so the City decided to pay.

I do not have all of the details, but it appears from the article that there was very little common sense exercised by the City in handling this case and most probably a serious lack of attention to Staiger’s individual situation.

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