January 14th, 2013

It’s fairly unusual to hear of a wrongful termination case with ties to an uprising, but one former Microsoft employee says that the tech giant fired him after he spoke to the press about his experience escaping Libya during the recent revolution. As many readers know, last year’s Libyan revolution was extremely violent and led many to flee the country.

The man in this case says that before he was able to leave Libya, he experienced severe emotional trauma, leaving him with post-traumatic stress disorder. He says his job with Microsoft was one of the things that made him a target for violence, and being targeted motivated him to flee when he had the opportunity as a U.S. citizen.

The man left Libya on a flight that the U.S. Embassy had chartered which took him to Turkey. When he arrived there he and the others on the flight were approached and briefly interviewed by reporters. After the interview he was approached by someone from Microsoft’s human resources department, who allegedly told him that he was not allowed to speak with the press and told him that he would be fired if he continued to do so even though he did not make any mention of his employment.

In addition, the man says that his employer also failed to make accommodations for him in the months immediately after he returned when he was being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and was advised not to travel for work.

There are quite a few issues alleged in this case, including possible retaliation and violations of the man’s freedom of speech as well as violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act for failing to work to accommodate the man while he was partially disabled and unable to travel. He says that other employees from Libya were affirmatively transferred by Microsoft into new jobs, but he was not, which may have been in retaliation for this comments to the press.

Microsoft also terminated him in advance of the end of his contract, which means that they could also be liable for breach of contract.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Fired After Libyan Trauma, Man Says,” Elizabeth Warmerdam, Jan. 14, 2013.

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