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Lawsuit pins Apple with discrimation against mental illness

updated 12:40 pm EST, Wed December 29, 2010

Store worker says jobs denied based on suspicions

A former worker at Apple's SoHo retail store in New York City has filed suit against the company, claiming discrimination on the basis of mental illness. The woman first began a job at SoHo in 2008, but in April 2009 took a four-month leave of absence because of a nervous disorder, seeking help from a psychiatrist. The leave was handled by a third-party company, alleged to have assured her that Apple wouldn't learn the details of her condition. On returning though the woman says it was "obvious" that other workers, "especially" the human resources director, had learned about her problem.

Another person had been given her job, and the woman was told she would be put in a "holding pattern" until a new one could be found. In practice she claims to have been relegated to a room in the basement with a vacant desk, having nothing to do except occasionally help other people. Despite requesting work and applying for specific positions, nothing happened; when she was denied a Genius job, court documents suggest she was told that there were "questions about her mental stability."

Matters worsened when she moved to Chicago, having been told that an Apple Store on North Michigan Avenue had an opening, where she was still unable to get work. Lawyers accuse Apple of "malice and reckless indifference," denying jobs because of a perceived disability even though the woman says she was certified as recovered from any illness.

Apple's behavior resulted in "emotional distress, humiliation and embarrassment," documents add. The plaintiff's lawyers are seeking front pay, back pay, benefits and any other compensation that may have been lost. $300,000 in punitive damages are also being demanded given discrimination and violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Earlier this month Apple was accused of denying promotions to a Florida man on the basis of age. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agreed that there was "reasonable cause" to suspect age discrimination, but it could not reach a settlement with Apple. The man's supervisor has allegedly denied that he ever pursued a promotion.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969



    So this mad b***** is suing Apple because they paid her to do nothing, she left the company, moved to another State and found that she couldn't get hired at a different store?

    I'm sure there are plenty of people who would love to get paid for doing nothing in the basement. Just exactly how crackers is she?

  1. lkrupp

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Fodder for the trolls...

    About all this article is good for is fodder for the Apple haters. Anybody with an awareness of modern day America knows these sorts of lawsuits are every day occurences for almost every company. There are people in this society who literally make their livings by suing companies for anything they can come up with. A couple of thousand here, a couple of thousand there, and it adds up to a nice supplementary income. The really big companies are always being scammed for worker's compensation claims, disability claims, discrimination, etc. Why do you think these companies hire private firms to investigate fraudulent claims.

    This one will end like they all do. She'll get a little money, her lawyers will get more money than her, Apple settle without admitting anything and the terms will be sealed. Next case.

  1. qazwart

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Don't be too harsh

    First of all, I wouldn't want a job where I got paid for doing nothing. It isn't exactly a secure position in these days of layoffs. Besides, I want more than just a paycheck.

    Yes, these suits go on all the time, but that doesn't make them illegitimate. Let's find out exactly what happened before we cast aspersions.

    It could be that the Apple store did discriminate against her because of her treatment instead of judging her on her actual conduct. In that case, she'd be correct in pressing the suit.

    On the other hand, if the Apple store truly didn't know her situation, and her conduct before the customers was not very good, the store would have full rights to assign her a backroom job.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Fodder for the trolls...

    About all this article is good for is fodder for the Apple haters.

    Yes, because it's always 'all about Apple'.

    Anybody with an awareness of modern day America knows these sorts of lawsuits are every day occurences for almost every company.

    OK. Which means if you go to a DellNN, you'll read about a lawsuit against Dell, and if you go to MicrosoftNN, you'll read about a lawsuit against Microsoft. Your point?

    There are people in this society who literally make their livings by suing companies for anything they can come up with.

    And there are people who would like to work but can't because they're discriminated against. Oh, but since there are those who just sue to just sue, we should assume all lawsuits are baseless and just cash grabs. Yeah, that's it!

    Why do you think these companies hire private firms to investigate fraudulent claims.

    Because the company doesn't want to pay any lawsuit off. Gee, who would, regardless of the validity of the claims. So you try to dredge up something to put the suit in doubt. They also put out their own misinformation about the worker. That's why there is discovery. So some lawyer can figure out "Hey, if she was such a bad worker, why did you not write her up, and, more so, why didn't you can her?"

    BTW, what do you think these companies do when the investigators come back and say "Yep, the claims are completely valid." Do they release that information? No. Do they go "Yep, we're settling because we were at fault."? Nope. They 'lose' the investigator's report and settle without admitting guilt.

  1. MasterHundinco

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    I had worked for Apple retail as a genius 5 years ago. It was later summer. I had just gotten done with a major jaw surgery to fix a serious TMJ issue that had caused migraines all my life. I cam back to work and was working in the back with my mouth wired shut for a month. Not getting the same kinda of Genius-to-customer deluge. I am in the back for a month when they put me back on the floor to deal with holiday shoppers.

    Little did i know that the ipod video was going to be released. Our store from Thanksgiving to Christmas was besieged by customers wanting the ipod video and nano. It got so bad that fire fighters and police had to come because customers were cramming into the store past safe capacity. So bad in fact i got knocked over and trampled.

    It was a literal Saving Private Ryan moment from where tom hanks is staring down the barrel of the tank at the end. Everything slowed down and became quite and tranquil to the point of out of body experience for me. Little did i know that i was going through shock.

    After that day i started crying randomly, a 6 foot 5, 260lb guy randomly crying i would run to the back before doing it infront of customers but I didn't smile anymore and i lost all sense of joy in my job. just before new years morning i was taking back to the HR managers office to be told they were letting me go. That is just didn't seem "happy" and that they would like to let me go. I said i didn't want to quit and i broke down crying again.

    I didn't know this but i was at the tipping point of major depression and PTSD. over the next year i was in and out of the hospital being treating for PTSD and Suicidal depression. So don't every call someone a Mad b!@# over something that is surely serious and under supported medical issue that can and will happen. The stigma of mental illness is a serious issue in the work place and now i have to explain why for two and a half years i didn't have a solid job before the economic melt down.

    I didn't sue though because i didn't know at the time or even think about the fact something bad might be going on with me. I was at a point where i second guessed my self and didn't even trust my own judgment so again i repeat people who have suffered this know it. People who haven't or are stoic cold hearted a!@#holes with empathy of a molded shoe can shove it!

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