History of Violence or Perceived Disability?

CAN YOU REFUSE TO HIRE SOMEONE BECAUSE THEY HAVE AN “EMOTIONAL DYSFUNCTION” AND A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE?

Maybe not! In Josephs v. Pacific Bell the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a jury verdict in Joseph’s favor after Pacific Bell terminated Joseph for lying on his employment application about prior criminal convictions and refused to reinstate him. In 1982 Josephs was arrested for murder and found not guilty by reason of insanity. In 1985 Josephs was convicted of misdemeanor batter on a police officer. Joseph failed to disclose the conviction when he applied for a job at Pacific Bell in 1997 and, pursuant to Pacific Bell policy, was terminated when the background check revealed Joseph’s criminal history. Joseph sought reinstatement after expunging his record, similar to other employees with criminal backgrounds who were later reinstated. Pacific Bell refused, believing Joseph’s history of violence could endanger Pacific Bell customers with whom Joseph would have contact. The jury concluded that Pacific Bell discriminated against Joseph on the basis of an actual or perceived mental disability and that Pacific Bell did not have a sufficient basis to conclude that Joseph posed an actual threat to anybody’s safety.

The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego
95 South Market Street, Suite 520
San Jose, CA 95113
Tel. 408-293-6341
 
Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman, former associate of The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego.
 

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Phillip J. Griego represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

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