Tuscarawas County Judge upholds ruling in discrimination and retaliation case against daycare worker represented by DRO

December 6, 2017

A Tuscarawas County Court of Common Pleas Judge has upheld a finding by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) that a daycare facility discriminated against an employee by firing her after one day on the job. In July 2014, daycare Through the Years dismissed Theresa Petrullo, who has been diagnosed with the early stages of macular degeneration. Petrullo's attorneys at Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) and co-counsel John Marshall of Marshall & Forman applaud the decision.

Petrullo received a termination letter from Through the Years stating that she had been fired because of her visual impairment, though she is still able to drive and uses a magnifying glass to read small print. The daycare did not consult with her about her disability or inquire if she required any accommodations for it. Suspecting discrimination, Petrullo filed a complaint with OCRC and turned to DRO for help.

Before DRO attorney William Puckett could speak with the attorney for Through the Years, Petrullo received a letter from opposing counsel, calling her OCRC complaint extortion and threatening to file litigation if she did not drop it. Petrullo then filed another complaint with OCRC, alleging retaliation by Through the Years through their attorney.

Judge Edward O'Farrell agreed that Petrullo was the victim of retaliation. O'Farrell's ruling upholds an OCRC decision ordering that Through the Years award Petrullo back pay, reinstate her employment, revise their employee handbook and provide disability training to their employees.

"The Judge's decision once again makes it clear that discrimination against people with disabilities will not be tolerated," says DRO attorney William Puckett. "Employers across the state should take notice. Thankfully, Theresa was able to persevere to find a new job in the child care field, but she hopes that her experience will raise awareness of this important issue."

A federal case has now also been filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio. That case is ongoing.

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