Sally Dobyns, a former professor and director of the Center for Gifted Education at UL Lafayette, has won her disability, discrimination and retaliation case against the university.
The week-long trial ended Monday, Feb. 13, with a jury verdict in favor of Dobyns for employment retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
While being employed with UL as director and professor, Dobyns developed a disability related to severe environmental allergies, and her medical doctors required that she take a season away from pollen once a year, preferably during the winter months.
But when she requested the recommended accommodations, Dobyns claimed that UL retaliated against her.
“She requested those accommodations, but what it came down to at trial was a finding that ULL had retaliated against her for her protected activity of requesting accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and for complaining of and reporting what she believed to be discrimination and harassment,” says Crystal Bounds, an attorney with the Baton Rouge-based Craft Law Firm that represented Dobyns.
“And so, they were found to have retaliated against her in removing her as the director ... and then ultimately harassing her to the point where she did in fact retire, feeling that she had no other alternative," Bounds continues.
According to Bounds, UL was found to be in violation of the retaliation provisions of the ADA, and the jury decided to award damages to Dobyns in the amount of $25,000.
Representing UL at trial were Robin Magee and Patrick McIntire of the Oats & Marino Law Firm, based in Lafayette.
“Chiefly, we’re pleased with the verdict,” says Bounds. “And while [$25,000] may seem small to some people, the statute also authorizes for attorneys fees and costs, which is something that we will be filing a motion for shortly.”