Ex-Burger King Employee Awarded $2M by Orlando Jury in Trachea Tube Lawsuit
A former employee says she was fired because she uses a trachea tube to breathe.
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Ashley Merard has won her lawsuit against Burger King franchisee Magic Burgers LLC in the U.S. District Court of Orlando, according to Orlando Sentinel. Merard accused Burger King of firing her because she used a trachea tube.
"You can't tell her to take the tube out. She'd die...It's a question of right and wrong, and that's wrong," her lawyer David Barszcz told Orlando Sentinel.
The lawsuit says Merard's trachea tube was visible during her interview with the general manager who hired her. After six weeks on the job, a "higher management official" saw her at work and said "she had to go because of the tube."
Merard, who sought damages for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, won $2 million in punitive damages, $30,000 for emotional pain and mental anguish plus over $15,000 for lost wages.
Magic Burgers attorney Jesse Drawas says the company plans on appealing the ruling. Drawas says Merard "voluntarily left her job without notice … she simply stopped showing up to work without telling anybody," according to court documents.
Merard was in a car accident in 2017, Orlando Sentinel reports. Since then she has needed the tube to breathe, according to documents.