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Worker May Show Sears Had Disability Bias

(CN) - Sears Roebuck must face claims that it fired an employee because of his ulcerative colitis, discriminating against his disability, the 9th Circuit ruled Wednesday.

The ruling from a three-judge panel out of Pasadena reverses summary judgment awarded to Sears in the Southern District of California.

Anthony Nigro claims that he was fired from a Sears in Carlsbad because the retailer refused to accommodate his disability.

The nine-page opinion cites Nigro's testimony about June, 29, 2009, phone conversation with his manager in which the supervisor allegedly said: "If you're going to stick with being sick, it's not helping your situation. It is what it is. You're not getting paid, and you're not going to be accommodated."

Though the trial court had dismissed Nigro's evidence as "self-serving testimony," the 9th Circuit on Wednesday said Nigro's claims should go to trial.

"It is ... entirely besides the point that some of Nigro's evidence was self-serving, as it will often be the case in a discrimination case that an employee has something to say about what company representatives said to him or her," Judge Ronald Gould wrote for the appellate panel. "Such testimony is admissible, though absent corroboration, it may have limited weight. But again, the weight is to be assessed by the trier of fact at trial, not to be a basis to disregard the evidence at the summary judgment stage."


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