Department of Veterans Affairs Admits Unlawful Discrimination

In an unprecedented decision the US Department of Veterans Affairs admitted to unlawful discrimination in a disability discrimination claim brought by the Solomon Law Firm, PLLC on behalf their former federal employee, Susan Orlando. The VA will reportedly pay compensatory damages, including back pay, life insurance, and attorney fees to the now deceased Complainant. Susan Orlando, a long time Federal Employee worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs for nearly two decades and was a highly valued and well respected member of the VA Staff who prided herself in her ability to provide exceptional services for local veterans.

All of this changed when Ms. Orlando requested time off from work to accommodate a surgery she needed for a hip replacement. The hip replacement surgery was necessary to emolliate the pain Ms. Orlando experienced on a daily basis as a result of a degenerative disc disease. Ms. Orlando used an electronic scooter for mobility as her disability created significant pain and impaired her ability to walk. She had previously undergone a hip replacement to alleviate the pain associated with her degenerative disc disease and experienced a dramatic improvement in quality of life.

Much like the prior hip replacement, this surgery was expected to alleviate the significant pain she experienced on a daily basis.

When Susan requested leave from work for the surgery, her supervisor at the West Palm Beach, VA Medical Center denied the request and threatened to terminate Susan's employment if she was absent from work for the surgery. As an alternative to immediate termination, Susan's supervisor directed her to retire immediately. Ultimately, Susan retired in lieu of termination, but not before contacting an EEO counselor and reporting her supervisor's threats of termination for her disability related absences.

Susan Orlando resigned and never returned to the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center. Although previously having a successful hip surgery, Susan Orlando died unexpectedly in recovery as a result of the undue stress by her supervisor's willful and intentional discrimination.

"My mother was devastated. My mother was an exceptional person, human being, and professional. Even though her physical condition caused her significant pain, she never complained, and always had an exceptional outlook on life. I had always known my mother to be upbeat, charismatic, and most of all, strong. The actions of my Mother's supervisor changed that. My mother gave the VA the better part of her career, and in turn they took her dignity and her life." said, Thomas Orlando, Susan Orlando's son who continued the failure to accommodate and constructive discharge action on Susan's behalf after her untimely death.

The VA agreed that the West Palm Beach Supervisor discriminated against Ms. Orlando and offered to pay compensatory damages, pecuniary damages, costs, and fees, in an amount which is expected to exceed $100,000.