Working at the Social Security Administration, Ryan King was not aware of discrimination against him until he got fired. Worse yet, the alleged discrimination resulted from a disability for which the agency pays benefits to many Americans.
The Toledo, Ohio, man is blind in one eye and has a pathological condition that causes uncontrollable eye movement in the other.
King joined the Social Security team in 2012 as a lawyer writing decisions in the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. Only after losing the job in 2013 did a union representative tell King that he should have more accommodations, including more time to write decisions. King responded by filing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claim and hiring a lawyer.
The EEOC has limited resources to pick up employment discrimination cases, according to its website. After all, individuals filed more than 25,000 disability discrimination charges in 2014, an increase of nearly 10,000 from a decade ago. King's case managed to make the cut, and the EEOC is in the process of reviewing it.
He became aware of coworkers' discrimination since filing the claim. An affidavit from his supervisor claims that King apologized for being a bad lawyer or employee. King said "that never happened."
"A lot of things were said behind my back that led to my termination," King told the Washington Examiner.
To pay for the claim, King borrowed money from family and maxed out his credit cards. Now, his family has to cope with other health concerns like cancer and a stroke and can no longer lend money. The family anticipated that the case would have ended after six months.
King must continue paying attorney fees estimated at nearly $18,000 and an estimated $4,100 in additional expenses. As a trained lawyer himself, he contributes to some of the legal duties.
"[My lawyer] said if it weren't for my cooperation in this case, it would have been considerably more expensive," King said.
In addition to continued legal costs, King wants to pay his family back. He began raising money on Gofundme.com with a goal of $22,000.
If King is not satisfied with the EEOC results, he can take the case to a federal district court. For him, the best case scenario is to "have steady employment again," preferably at his former job. At the very least, he wants money to practice law on his own.
Losing the Social Security job created uncertainty in his career path. "I haven't been able to find employment in the legal field since then," King told the Examiner.
Statistics work against disabled professionals like King. At private law firms, less than one in one thousand associates are disabled, the National Association for Law Placement found in 2003.
Emily Leayman is an intern at the Washington Examiner