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Supreme Court: Fired Employee Can Sue School District For Discrimination
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 28, 2004

PHOENIX, ARIZONA--The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sided with a lower court allowing a woman to sue her employer for requiring her to stick a flagpole and flag to her wheelchair so she could be seen.

Shelley Savage, 38, was fired from her job as a technician in the Independence High School's computer lab on August 23, 1999 after she refused to mount a flagpole and flag to her chair as school officials had ordered her to do.

The district had ordered her to use the flag because of concerns that students in the lab could not see her over the computers.

Savage said the order was a form of discrimination and violated her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. After she was fired, she filed a discrimination claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Arizona Civil Rights Section of the Attorney General's Office. Both agencies issued her a right-to-sue letter.

The district argued that it could not be sued under the ADA because it is part of Arizona state government. The "state's rights" argument has been used repeatedly by state agencies that want to avoid following the 1990 federal anti-discrimination law.

The Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled in September of 2003 that the Arizona public school system relies on local control, rather than state control, and that the district can be sued by individuals.

Monday's Supreme Court ruling backed up the appeals court, without comment.

"I want people to see past my wheelchair and past my disability," Savage said in a statement released by her lawyer, Rose Daly-Rooney of the Arizona Center for Disability Law. "The requirement to place a flag and a flagpole on my wheelchair was humiliating and embarrassing."

Savage's lawsuit against the school district can now proceed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix.

A settlement hearing has been set for Friday.

Related court case:
Savage v. Glendale Union H.S. (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit)
(PDF Format -- requires free Acrobat Reader)


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