Daniel Herrmann, whose right hand, arm and leg were disabled in a car accident, had a good thing going at Merrill Lynch. The company gave him a left-handed keyboard and allowed him extra time between phone calls to type in information. He repeatedly earned bonuses for his performance in the mortgages division.
But when Bank of America took over, working conditions went south, he says in a lawsuit against the bank. He was transferred to customer relations, denied accommodations for his condition, and eventually was fired in 2010 for being too slow -- on the job and coming back from lunch. His last limp from the cafeteria to his desk took 1 minute 8 seconds too long, his lawyer said.
Now Herrmann, a 38-year-old father of two from Irwin, Pa., is going after Bank of America to secure back pay and damages for discrimination and violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, according to the complaint.
"He worked so hard to come back from such a severe injury, put himself through school, gained tons of experience, and was very good at his job," his attorney, Emily Town, told The Huffington Post.
Bank of America countered that it did nothing wrong. "Bank of America denies the allegations in the complaint and denies that it discriminated against Mr. Herrmann because of his disability," bank spokeswoman Shirley Norton wrote to HuffPost on Thursday. "Bank of America is prepared to vigorously defend this case."
In the lawsuit first reported by ABC News, Herrmann said he was told that accommodating his disability "wouldn't be fair to people with two hands" and that Bank of America didn't adhere to the Disabilities Act, which mandates workplace adjustments for qualified employees. Herrmann had a college degree, worked 13 years in banking and "thrived" in his previous assignment, ABC News reported.
Herrmann's transfer to customer service under Bank of America began a downward spiral, the suit contends. Supervisors wouldn't give him the time he needed between calls to log in information, leading to diminished performance and to being relegated to a worse shift. At that point he requested a transfer to a post that required less typing and asked for some time allowance to meet his performance goals. He was denied, according to reports.
"It fell apart quickly for something that seemed so minor," Town said to HuffPost. "...Allowing him time between phone calls would have made him more productive." Town added that the accommodations would have cost BofA "next to nothing."
Higher-ups then began harassing Herrmann for taking long lunch breaks -- even though his limp prevented him from walking quickly to and from a lunch room on another floor when the one on his floor was full. After being a mere minute or seconds late on several occasions, he was fired after returning to his desk one minute, eight seconds late in early September 2010, said Town.
The case, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, will go to mandatory mediation first, Town told HuffPost.
Herrmann has since found new employment in a similar position "and is doing better than when we first met," his attorney said.
This story was updated to include a comment from Bank of America.
Adding A Slice Of Cheese, Free Of Charge
In 2009, a female Dutch McDonalds employee was fired after she gave a colleague a cheeseburger instead of the cheaper hamburger that had been paid for, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/7080767/McDonalds-wrong-to-fire-worker-over-cheese-slice.html" target="_hplink"><em>The Telegraph</em> reports.</a> A Dutch court ruled that the firing was too severe a punishment and ordered McDonald's to pay the ex-employee the full salary for what were the remaining five-months on her contract, as well as legal fees.
Smelling Like Smoke
Stephanie Cannon was fired from her reception job at the Frauenshuh Cancer Center of Park Nicollet Health Services on the grounds that she smelled like smoke at work, <a href="http://kstp.com/news/stories/S2703953.shtml?cat=1" target="_hplink">KSTP-TV reports</a>. Cannon is a regular, pack-a-day smoker who told the local ABC affiliate that she never brought her habit with her to work.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/06/judy-henderson-home-depot_n_1861595.html?1346951029" target="_hplink">Home Depot fired Judy Henderson</a> in 2010 after she told the company that she would extend her sick leave because of a cancerous tumor. The company agreed to pay $100,000 to Henderson, who had worked at Home Depot since 1997.
Nearly 50-Year Old 'Stupid Stunt'
Wells Fargo <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/28/richard-eggers-wells-fargo_n_1836441.html?1346169626" target="_hplink">fired Richard Eggers</a> from his job of nearly 7 years in July after discovering that he was caught putting a cardboard cutout of a dime in a laundromat washing machine nearly 50 years ago.
Former Tuesday Morning CEO Kathleen Mason claimed that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/03/kathleen-mason-tuesday-morning_n_1738344.html?utm_hp_ref=business" target="_hplink">she was fired from her position after she disclosed to the company's board that she has cancer.</a> One board member even allegedly made fun of Ms. Mason's wig. Her charges are being taken to court as she sues her former employers for damages and reinstatement.
Eagles' Worker Fired For Facebook Update
Philadelphia Eagles stadium operations worker Dan Leone was fired after he updated his Facebook status criticizing Eagles management for trading Brian Dawkins in 2009, <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-10192227-71.html?tag=mncol;txt" target="_hplink">CNET reported.</a> Mr. Leone allegedly posted this: <blockquote>"Dan is ******* devastated about Dawkins signing with Denver...Dam Eagles are Retarded."</blockquote>
Sending EMAILS IN ALL-CAPS!
In 2007, New Zealand resident Vicki Walker was fired from her job for sending emails in bold, red-underlined all-caps fonts, <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2009/09/01/new-zealand-woman-fired-sending-caps-e-mail/" target="_hplink">Fox News reports.</a> Walker was laterawarded $17,000 for wrongful termination.
Mocking Your Customers On Youtube
Barista Christopher Cristwell was fired by Starbucks after he took his pent-up anger out on Youtube, <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2040748/Starbucks-sack-Christopher-Cristwell-YouTube-song-mocking-customers.html" target="_hplink"><em>The Daily Mail</em> reported.</a> Known as "The Starbucks Rant Song," Mr. Cristwell told his internet viewing audience that cappucino lovers were "the worst of all." A spokesman for Starbucks stated: <blockquote>'While Christopher was expressing his own views in the video, the disparaging remarks about our customers and company are unacceptable and out of line with our commitment to our customers and partners (employees).'</blockquote>
Being Too Fat
Ronald Kratz II was fired from his job as a parts sorter after his employer determine that it interfered with his job performance, <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/09/28/worker-allegedly-fired-for-being-overweight/" target="_hplink">Fox News reports.</a> Following his dismissal, Katz filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission and lost over 300 pounds.
Giving The President The Finger
Russian newsreader Tatyana Limanova was let go after she gave President Obama the finger on live television, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/8918725/Russian-newsreader-fired-after-giving-Barack-Obama-finger-Firing-me-was-sense-of-humour-failure.html" target="_hplink"><em>The Telegraph</em> reports.</a> Limanova claims that the gesture was just a misunderstanding rather than an insult towards the leader of the free world.