Court reinstates discrimination suit

September 11, 2008 12:10:31 PM PDT
A state appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit in which a former clothes fitter at a Neiman Marcus store in San Francisco claims she was discriminated against because of a disability and her Middle Eastern origin.

Forough Nadaf-Rahrov, who is of Iranian descent, sued Dallas-based Neiman Marcus Group Inc. in 2005 after being fired by the San Francisco store in 2004.

Nadaf-Rahrov had recurrent back and joint pain and was on doctor-approved disability leave from November 2003 to June 2004.

Company officials said at the time that they had tried to accommodate her, but there didn't appear to be any available positions that she could fill and that she had given no indication her disabling condition was likely to change.

Nadaf-Rahrov claimed in the lawsuit that the company didn't do enough to find her alternate jobs that she could perform in spite of her disability.

She also claimed her firing was part of a pattern of discriminatory discharges of Middle Eastern workers following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

In 2006, a Superior Court judge dismissed all of Nadaf-Rahrov's claims in a summary judgment without a trial.

But in a ruling issued Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal in San Francisco ordered further proceedings on the claims of disability discrimination and national origin discrimination. The panel upheld the dismissal of age discrimination and retaliation claims.

Nadaf-Rahrov had argued she should be given a chance to prove the company did more to help two other disabled employees who were not of Middle Eastern descent. The court said the link between those workers' experiences and Nadaf-Rahrov's experience appeared to be "tenuous," but that she was entitled to gather more evidence.

Lawyers in the case were not immediately available for comment.


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