Carney Shegerian, the founder of Shegerian & Associates recently won $2.9 million in damages on behalf of a 63-year-old kitchen worker, in her lawsuit against the Los Angeles Community College District.
Anahit Shirvanyan, the plaintiff, claimed that the LACCD failed to engage in the interactive process and failed to provide reasonable accommodations. The jury rejected Shirvanyan’s claim of disability discrimination.
Shirvanyan and her family immigrated to the United States from Iran in 1988. Shirvanyan was hired at the licensed childcare facility at Valley College in Van Nuys in February of 2007, and was excited to have the opportunity to work with children.
In 2012, Shirvanyan began experiencing pain in her right hand and arm, which was due in part to her constant lifting of heavy grocery items and kitchen equipment. In 2014, she was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. Shirvanyan claims that after complaining to her boss about her pain, the supervisor responded by reducing her hours.
Later, the supervisor asked Shirvanyan why she wore a splint on her hand. They proceeded to ignore her requests for help in pushing carts and moving heavy items. Shirvanyan’s supervisor allegedly told her, “Nobody is obligated to help you because they have their own work to do.”
Shirvanyan asked her supervisor for assistance in 2015, the supervisor told her that they were planning to retire, and suggested she do the same. In January of 2016, Shirvanyan’s daughter provided her employer a doctor’s note, which requested three months off to deal with her pain, but the plaintiff did not hear back from the LACCD regarding the request.
“The verdict should send a message to employers that they should accommodate employees with injuries so that they are not forced to work through their pain and suffer,” Shegerian said.
At the end of 2018, Shirvanyan stated that she suffers from depression and has lost much of the use of her right arm.