Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities ex rel. Urban v. United Pet Supply Inc.
The Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities can award back pay to a worker who proves discrimination on the basis of a medical disability. At a hearing in damages, the human rights referee found the following facts. In July 2007, the respondent, Pet Supply Inc., hired the complainant, Stephen Urban, and he earned $10 per hour. In October, Urban admitted to supervisors that he had taken a package with a shirt that a customer left in the store, returned the shirt and accepted a refund. Soon after, Urban took a medical leave of absence as a result of complications from pneumonia that included congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy. In December, Urban returned to work. The district manager heard about Urban's confession about the alleged theft of the shirt and ordered the supervisor to discharge Urban. In February 2008, Urban filed a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, alleging that the reason that the employer provided for discharge was a pretext and the real reason was his medical disability. Urban received unemployment benefits. In February 2008, Olympia Sport Center hired Urban, and he earned $13 per hour. The respondent, Pet Supply Inc., failed to attend a conference and was defaulted. A default admits the material facts that constitute a cause of action. At a hearing in damages, Presiding Human Rights Referee Ellen Bromley ordered the respondent, Pet Supply, to pay seven weeks of back pay, or $1,236, to the complainant, plus interest of 10 percent, and to reimburse the state $1,764 for unemployment benefits. Urban failed to prove emotional distress and was not awarded damages for emotional distress.