Blind career counselor claims she was the victim of human rights violations

By Hoang Tran | Feb 19, 2016

CHARLESTON – A blind career counselor is taking her former employer, Horizons Youth Services, to court over what she claims was a discriminatory act by the group.


CHARLESTON – A blind career counselor is taking her former employer, Horizons Youth Services, to court over what she claims was a discriminatory act by the group.

Michelle Douglas filed a lawsuit on Feb. 1 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Horizons Youth Services Inc. over what she alleges were violations of the West Virginia Human Rights Act.

Douglas attests that she was employed with the group as a career counselor for Charleston Jobs Corps Center, a division operated by defendant, from Jan. 6, 2014, to Aug. 27, 2014. Douglas alleges that she properly informed the defendant about her disability and that she would require reasonable accommodations to perform her duties. The defendant allegedly provided the reasonable accommodations initially for Douglas, with the hiring supervisor assisting her with miscellaneous chores.

However, Douglas claims that once the hiring supervisor left the company, the defendant failed to provide the reasonable accommodations to her. The defendant had allegedly hired a part-time employee to assist Douglas, but the part-time employee was let go. Douglas claims that without assistance and despite multiple requests for accommodations, she had no means of filing paper work and was behind on it. Douglas also alleges that she was not able to access the company’s network despite asking IT and the defendant for assistance.

Douglas claims that she was written up in July or August 2014 and resigned after the disciplinary act, fearing that she would be fired if she did not resign. Despite leaving the company, Douglas claims that defendant has made efforts to continue its act of discrimination against her by making post-employment misrepresentations against her when she filed for unemployment. Such acts allegedly include falsely denying that Douglas requested reasonable accommodations to perform her duties. Douglas attests that the actions made by defendant were violations of the WHRA.

She is now suing for damages for past and future lost wages, incidental and punitive damages, attorney fees and court costs, and any other rewards deemed just by the court. She is seeking a jury trial and is represented by Mark A. Toor in Charleston. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Tod J. Kaufman.

Kanawha Circuit Court Case number 16-C-113

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