I received the following comment from Sacramento attorney Gay L. Carroll concerning yesterday’s post about Chris Storm, who was fired for taking her dog to work for emotional support. Rather than bury it in comments, I am posting it because she makes some very good points and clarification of the court case.
I thought I’d chime in on the comments about this case. And to educate you on the law under which Ms. Storm brought her lawsuit. Please email me and I'll send you the public documents on file with the court in this case.
The court documents and the testimony at trial reveal the following:
Chris Storm filed a complaint under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. Chris Storm had a mental disability of anxiety and depression. She had been prescribed antidepressants but did not react well to them. Her dog worked as her therapy. Chris Storm did not want to take drugs and pills.
Chris Storm’s employer had allowed her to bring her companion dog to work with her for almost 10 years.
Suddenly, when Meghan Stanton (who had worked there for years and who knew Chris brought a dog to work with her) became the new Executive Director, after about seven months of allowing Chris Storm to continue bringing her dog to work with no problems, Ms. Stanton suddenly told Ms. Storm that she could no longer bring her dog to work. Ms. Stanton then cooked up fake reasons for not allowing the dog to continue to be brought to work.
Further, Ms. Stanton failed to enter into the interactive process with Chris Storm, refused to accommodate her mental disability, and then made up lies about the state of Chris Storm’s office and the sanitation regarding her dog. Testimony at trial from independent vendors who had visited Chris Storm’s office for years and who saw Chris Storm’s dog in her office revealed that there were NO sanitation issues regarding Chris Storm’s dog at work. In fact, testimony at trial revealed that Ms. Stanton solicited memoranda from several employees to cook up alleged complaints about sanitation issues regarding Chris Storm’s dog—when in fact no such issues existed because there was no record whatsoever of any complaints about Ms. Storm’s dog, her office, or the state of Ms. Storm’s office (i.e., fecal matter or urine) before Chris Storm requested a reasonable accommodation and then filed a grievance against Meghan Stanton over how Ms. Stanton handled Chris Storm’s request for accommodation. And the jury understood this—that there was no problem of urine and fecal matter in Chris Storm’s office!
The jury held that Ms. Stanton retaliated against Ms. Storm for Ms. Storm having sought a reasonable accommodation!
Ms. Stanton intentionally lied to the Board of Directors for the agency; Ms. Stanton failed to properly respond to Ms. Storm’s grievance about how Ms. Stanton handled Ms. Storm’s request for accommodation; Ms. Stanton made up lies about why the dog could not continue to come to work (poop and piss); Ms. Stanton then cooked up a scheme to get rid of the Chris Storm—so she told the Board that she wanted to “eliminate” the Fiscal Director’s position! This when the agency could not function without a Fiscal Director—Chris Storm’s job! The savings from Chris Storm’s job went to increase salaries—including the salary of Meghan Stanton.
This case shows how much a problem we have in our society of folks with mental disorders—here—anxiety and depression. Chris Storm bravely chose to utilize an animal to assist her with her anxiety and depression!
For decades, the scientific and medical communities scoffed and laughed at the healing power of humor and laughter! Yet today, those communities respect and accept the powerful influence of laughter and humor influencing the health of the immune system—and its powerful effect in healing a body. So too is it with the power of animals to assist persons with mental disorders in dealing with those disorders.
With millions of people dealing with their illnesses with Valium, Paxil, Prozac, alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and other drugs to deal with their problems, isn’t it refreshing that Chris Storm utilized a simpler and less expensive method to help her cope with her anxiety and depression. Chris Storm chose to utilize her animal instead of taking antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs!
It is my hope that this case starts people thinking about alternatives to the use of mind-altering powerful drugs by persons with psychological conditions.
Any doubt about this? Go to the scientific and medical communities and see the percentage of people using Valium, Prozac, sleep aids, and alcohol alone! Our society is drugged. Vast segments of our society are drugged with prescription medications that have potentially major side effects that can create physical dependencies and physical problems with their continued use. What is so terrible about utilizing a four-pound bundle of love rather than taking drugs? Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
I would rather have a four-pound bundle of love sitting in my lap than a martini and Valium pill in each hand—any day of the week!
Chris Storm is a very brave woman. She stood up for her right to utilize an animal as an accommodation to assist her with her psychological disorder of anxiety and depression.
Are we ready for new ideas in treatment of anxiety and depression? Or are we going to continue to rely on mind-altering drugs to help people cope with their personal challenges?
Gay L. Carroll, Esq.
Law Offices of Gay Carroll
770 L Street, Suite 950
Sacramento, California 95814
- Specializing in employment law -