A man who filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against a global air transport company that he said refused to accommodate his disability was awarded just over $1 million by a Los Angeles Superior Court jury.
The jury reached its verdict Feb. 10 in trial of the lawsuit brought by Alejandro Gonzalez against Swissport, a global aviation services company that provides airport ground and cargo handling services.
“This is exactly why employment laws exist,” said plaintiff’s attorney Khail Parris. “My client gave his life’s blood for Swissport, was a model employee and enjoyed his work only to be cast aside without so much as a thank you. He gave them more than a decade of his life and in exchange they gave him less than a 15-minute meeting to terminate him.”
After more than a decade of employment in which he rose from a bag handler to a flight coordinator, Gonzalez suffered a thoracic aortic aneurysm, according to his court papers.
Gonzalez felt a sharp pain in his chest, told his supervisor what was happening and was then rushed to a hospital, where he was admitted for inpatient care. He was then transferred to Keck Hospital at USC for open heart aortic valve surgery and was subsequently placed in a medically induced coma for one month, his court papers stated.
Gonzalez attempted to return to work In January 2017, but Swissport’s human resources team told him he was no longer employed and that his health insurance benefits were ending, according to his lawsuit.
When his health insurance lapsed, Gonzalez was unable to pay for his medications and soon suffered a stroke, his court papers stated.
Swissport attorneys maintainedthat there were no open jobs for which Gonzalez was qualified when he returned, given that he had a medical restriction on how much weight he could lift. Gonzalez was told he would be recalled when an appropriate position opened, but he instead resigned, according to the Swissport lawyers’ court papers.
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