Richland woman's lawsuit found meritless

September 19, 2013 

Spokane — Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that U.S. District Court Judge Edward Shea dismissed a disability lawsuit brought by a former federal employee of the Department of Energy.

According to information disclosed during the court proceedings, Mary Hollen, formerly of Richland, sued the DOE claiming her employer did not accommodate her asthma.

Hollen was an employee of the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and had been stationed in Richland since 1994.

In her lawsuit, she claimed her asthma prevented her from working in the Tri-Cities area and in 2006 she was forced to quit her job and move.

Papers filed in the lawsuit indicated Hollen claimed she could only work at one location “north of Seattle, west of Everett, east of Port Angeles and south of the San Juan Islands.” Hollen had sought damages of about $960,000.

In dismissing Hollen’s case, Judge Shea found that Hollen had not shown that her asthma limited ability to breathe or work when compared to the average individual.

Shea also found that the BPA had offered Hollen reasonable accommodation but that she did not take advantage of that offer. Additionally, Shea found her request to work from just one location to be unreasonable.

Ormsby stated, “claims of employment discrimination in federal employment are taken seriously. But when meritless lawsuits are brought, our office is dedicated to vigorously defending those suits and protecting the public purse.”

This case was defended on behalf of the United States by Rudy J. Verschoor, an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

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