A former Fulton Financial Corp. employee has filed a lawsuit against the bank for terminating her, claiming that a medical condition she has that causes anxiety and depression was aggravated because the bank did not allow her to avoid rush-hour traffic. Andrea DeGerolamo of Berlin, N.J., alleged that her firing violated New Jersey’s anti-discrimination law and the Family Medical Leave Act.

Labor and employment lawyer Steven W. Suflas, Managing Partner of Ballard Spahr’s New Jersey office, said that based on past precedent, Ms. DeGerolamo could have a tough time proving her case. He noted in particular that the courts said that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is intended to remove “workplace-created barriers. And commuting is not part of the work environment.”

While the ADA was passed in 1990 with the aim of giving physically disabled people access to employment, Mr. Suflas said that today, the most significant ADA-related complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission involve employees complaining of bad backs and stress.

“These cases involve reasonable accommodation to perform essential functions of the job,” Mr. Suflas said. “Now what we’re seeing is people complaining that they don’t like their co-workers’ perfume, they need an irritant-free environment, or they need to work from home. That’s not necessarily what the framers of the legislation had in mind.”

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Labor and Employment