A Mercedes Benz dealership in Seattle violated the Americans With Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) and Washington state disability law when it denied its finance director the chance to return to work after his surgery for vocal chord cancer. The federal jury awarded the employee nearly $5 million.
Troy Coachman worked for Seattle Auto Management, Inc. as a finance director. His lawsuit alleges he was a top producer, generating millions of dollars in income every year, outpacing all other finance employees, even after his cancer was first diagnosed, for which he had chemotherapy and radiation, resulting in his whispering to customers.
Unfortunately, Mr. Coachman’s cancer returned and he had to have larynx removed and replaced with a voice box. The dealership’s owner was concerned that customers would be put off by the sound of his voice and Mr. Coachman having to press a button on his throat to speak. The owner refused to return to him to work and refused to meet with him to discuss possible job accommodations including extending his medical leave if he disagreed with Mr. Coachman’s doctor’s opinion that he was ready to return to work.
A jury found that the dealership failed to accommodate Mr. Coachman’s disability and fired him because of it. He was awarded $4,934,060 in economic and other damages under the ADAAA and state law.