(CN) – A federal judge in Washington, D.C., refused to dismiss the disability discrimination claim of a diabetic prison guard who was fired for allegedly falling asleep on the job.
Joseph Lee, a former guard with the District of Colombia Department of Corrections, was assigned to a night shift at the Howard University Hospital.
Because he has advanced diabetes, staying awake can sometimes be difficult.
Lee said he asked for permission to take mid-shift breaks between 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m., but the department ignored his request.
He was fired for allegedly sleeping on the job, though he claims he did not actually fall asleep.
More than six months after the incident, Lee filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). He later sued the Department of Corrections under the Americans with Disabilities Act for its alleged failure to accommodate his request or investigate other options.
The department asked U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming Lee had missed the 180-day filing deadline.
But Judge Urbina ruled that work-sharing agreements between the district’s Office of Human Rights and the EEOC gave Lee a 300-day window in which to sue.
“Thus, the plaintiff constructively commenced and terminated his proceedings under District of Columbia law immediately upon filing his charge with the EEOC,” Urbina explained.