Minneapolis to settle discrimination lawsuit with fire cadet
Dominique Sabas was a probationary cadet in 2013, but was dismissed in the final week of training because she had failed to disclose a previous medical condition
By Adam Belz
MINNEAPOLIS — A City Council committee decided Monday that Minneapolis will pay $175,000 to a former firefighter cadet who sued the city for discrimination.
Dominique Sabas, of St. Paul, was a probationary firefighter cadet in 2013, but in the final week of training the Fire Department dismissed her, arguing that she had failed to disclose a previous medical condition.
She sued the city, alleging sex discrimination, disability discrimination and medical information discrimination. She also sued a doctor, Thomas C. Jetzer, who examined her, accusing him of aiding and abetting the discrimination.
Sabas had been hired as a cadet in July 2013 and during training one day in October, she was short of breath, her lips became blue and she used an albuterol inhaler. She told a fire captain then that she previously had been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.
A few days later she was sent to Jetzer for an examination. Pressed by the Fire Department for a decision on whether Sabas had been "honest" about her medical history, Jetzer wrote that "the individual has failed to disclose and/or provide complete and appropriate medical history and records required to make an informed decision."
Sabas was fired two days later.
Court documents show that she had disclosed her history with an autoimmune disease — the diagnosis was Wegener's granulomatosis but a pulmonologist said it was in remission in 1998 — before she started training.
In October, Hennepin County Judge Bruce Peterson threw out the allegations of sex discrimination and discrimination, but ruled that the disability discrimination and aiding and abetting cases should go forward. The City Council is set to approve the $175,000 settlement later this week.
Jetzer's case will go to trial on Jan. 23. Bryon Ascheman, his lawyer, said Monday that Jetzer did not aide or abet discrimination — he simply did not have all the information he needed to make a determination on Sabas, and told the city that.
"The city terminated this employee while Dr. Jetzer awaited more records, and Dr. Jetzer did not have any involvement in the termination decision," Ascheman said.
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