A librarian of 20 years is suing the city of Mountain View for discrimination and retaliation after she was asked to return to in-person work despite having a compromised immune system, according to a civil lawsuit filed with Santa Clara County Superior Court in July.
Marie Richardson, 54, has worked as a teen services librarian for the Mountain View Library since 2003. The lawsuit alleges that the city violated Richardson’s civil rights by refusing to accommodate a disability and retaliating against her when she requested to work from home four days a week.
In February 2020, Richardson was diagnosed with a disability that compromised her immune system, making her more vulnerable to diseases from coworkers and members of the public, according to court filings.
The library allowed employees to work remotely during the pandemic, specifically the omicron surge in January 2022, and required employees to return on-site about two months later. At this time, Richardson obtained a letter from her doctor and requested a reasonable accommodation to work remotely, which was granted, according to the lawsuit.
Richardson applied for the accommodation every 90 days, and it was renewed until May 2023. The city denied the request on grounds that the accommodations were “typically temporary,” and it was library policy for employees to work on-site every day.
When Richardson asked how her remote work created “an undue burden” for the city, she did not receive a response, according to the lawsuit.
Richardson was also criticized for not completing tasks on time and removing city materials from the building, according to the lawsuit. The filing contends that Richardson brought home materials to catalog them, and there were never any previous concerns about her work performance, citing a positive performance review from August 2022 when Richardson was working remotely.
The lawsuit also names the city's human resources manager and an assistant city attorney as defendants in the lawsuit. Deputy Communications Officer Brian Babcock declined to comment on the civil suit, noting that the city does not comment on ongoing litigation.
The lawsuit asks for compensation for general damages, that includes redress of humiliation, physical and mental suffering and distress, as well as compensation for attorney fees, the cost of the lawsuit and other relief at the court’s discretion.
Richardson's attorneys did not respond to a request for comment about the lawsuit.