A jury ruled Monday that Schlumberger should have allowed its employee, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, to bring his golden retriever-pit bull mix to work.
Juan Alonzo-Miranda requested he be allowed to bring his dog, Goldie, to work May 8, 2012. Although the company gave him permission Dec. 3, 2012, they wouldn’t let him go through the front door, said his Victoria-based attorney John W. Griffin.
Schlumberger thought the dog might pose a danger or hurt its image. They also didn’t think Alonzo-Miranda, then a mechanic, needed it for his post-traumatic stress disorder. The dog underwent 30 hours of training, though, Griffin said.
Although the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found Schlumberger violated The American with Disabilities Act, it cannot fine, Griffin said. The ADA defines discrimination as failing to reasonably accommodate a qualified worker who has a disability.
The jury deliberated for about 15 hours, awarding Alonzo-Miranda with more than $5,000 in lost wages and more than $23,000 in compensatory or mental pain and suffering damages, said Griffin, who worked on the case with attorney Mike Neuerburg.
“There’s a lot of stigma against service dogs because there are some counterfeit service dogs out there,” Griffin said. “There is also a lot of stigma for mental illness. Sometimes, employers are very skeptical of workers who have mental disabilities, but they are just as real as physical disabilities.”
Schlumberger supported the jury’s decision and continues to recruit veterans, according to Blake Nicole Herbert, a company spokeswoman.
“The jury’s decision to only award Mr. Alonzo-Miranda approximately $28,000 of the more than $300,000 he sought is a strong confirmation of Schlumberger’s commitment to fair employment practices,” she wrote.
A San Antonio federal jury heard the case.
This article was written by Jessica Priest from Victoria Advocate, Texas and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.