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Former USC football coach sues for wrongful termination

This time of year, football fans in California and across the nation are gearing-up for some of the biggest games of the year. For local college football fans, the University of Southern California is often a team to watch. However, the team has recently been in the news but not always for its action on the field. Former head coach for USC Steve Sarkisian recently sued his previous employer for wrongful termination.

Sarkisian's main claim is that USC did not take the proper steps to accommodate his disability. His disability, he argues, is alcoholism. He had previously taken a leave of absence in order to seek treatment for alcoholism; his employment was terminated in October of this year. As a result, earlier this month Sarkisian filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court alleging wrongful termination. He is seeking not only his job back, but also damages upwards of $30 million.

Many wrongful dismissal cases center on disability and whether the former employee's workplace took the right steps to address the disability. Also at issue may be whether or not the employee has a disability and if that disability has been properly documented. Alcoholism is recognized as a disability by both the Americans With Disabilities Act and the state of California's own Fair Employment and Housing Act. Typically, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for workers who have recognized disabilities.

What is a reasonable accommodation? The answer to this question can be difficult to pinpoint in an ever-changing working world. Still, in general an unreasonable accommodation would be one that severely interferes with the employer's business or one which requires significant changes in the worker's main job responsibilities.

It remains to be seen if the former USC coach will return to the field. Wrongful termination and instances where a high-profile worker's contract has been terminated can be complex and intimidating, especially if one's employer is a well-known and prestigious entity. Terminated workers in need of legal advice can obtain it from a Los Angeles wrongful termination firm.

Source: The National Law Review, "Analyzing Coach Steve Sarkisian's Employment Discrimination Lawsuit Against USC," Dec. 17, 2015

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