The case you're almost certainly thinking about is that of Tina
Bennett, who was working for the Unisys Corp. She was fired for her
extreme inability to get along with others and took the matter to
It's not clear from the articles I found exactly where she was
working, but the court handling the case was in eastern Pennsylvania,
so chances are it was in that vicinity. Technically, the judge didn't
order the company to rehire her, but he did rule that the law applied
in her case and that she was entitled to a trial to consider other
facts in the case.
Here is one article on the case:
Overlawyered and Overgoverned
"[In December 1999] A federal judge ruled that although Tina Bennett
had been 'belligerent and displayed an unprofessional attitude' at her
job, had 'difficulty controlling her emotions' and was 'incredibly
sensitive to criticism,' she was nonetheless entitled to sue arguing
that these personality traits were caused by severe depression and
should have been accommodated under the ADA by her employer, the
More details can be found here:
The most thorough article I found is here:
Go Ahead, Yell At Your Boss -- You're Protected by the ADA
This one is also quite thorough:
'Belligerent' employee behavior a protected right?
I was unable to find any references on the CNN site or in newspapers
to the case. But it has often been referred to, and it may be that
what you heard was a reference to the case rather than a story on the
case specifically. For obvious reasons, the case appears to be cited
often by those who think the law goes too far.
It isn't particularly significant that I couldn't find any news
articles relating to the case; most newspapers these days don't keep
their archives on line for more than a few months, or make them
available only to paying customers. Also, many archives (where they
exist) are available only through search forms and thus aren't seen by
the search engines. There apparently was an article on the case in the
Legal Intelligencer, but its contents isn't available online.
The subject of mental illness under the Americans with Disabilities
Act is an interesting one. Here are some other articles referring to
incidents that are similar to Bennett's situation:
Arizona State Compensation Fund Agrees To Pay $150,000
(Note that this case was resolved about 18 months ago. Perhaps you
heard a news story about it that mentioned the Bennett case.)
Federal law provides job rights for the mentally ill
Legal Hotline Bulletin -- February 2000
ADA Hits Notes in School Activity
Employee's comment about 'depression again' may trigger FMLA
I hope you have found this information useful.
By using various searches using terms such as "Americans with
Disabilities Act" I ran across the following blurb:
RealWorld Training and Consulting
"In one recent case, a federal court ruled that a woman?s belligerent
attitude and poor interpersonal skills were a result of clinical
depression, a condition covered by the ADA. The court ordered that she
be reinstated in her position with accommodation."
So I added the term "belligerent" to the search and came up with
various articles that mentioned the case.
Search term: woman ada belligerent depression
From that search I found out the woman's name, then searched for
articles about it:
bennett unisys corp