A U.S. District Court judge has ordered an independent mental evaluation of a former manager of a Home Depot in Burbank who claims she was fired due to gender discrimination and because she suffers from vertigo.
Danielle Mailhoit contends in her lawsuit that the company did not make appropriate accommodations for her condition, an allegation the Home Depot denies. The company counters that there were valid reasons for letting her go, stating “there existed legitimate, nondiscriminatory and nonretaliatory reasons” for her dismissal.
The case is slated to go to trial on Feb. 19 in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana.
In her decision, Judge Suzanne Segal said Mailhoit had her own psychological evaluation conducted last April, but did not tell the court or defense attorneys about it until November at the time of the expert disclosure deadline.
While Mailhoit was not required to release details about the evaluation’s existence until the deadline, Segal said Home Depot was entitled to an independent evaluation once Mailhoit announced she was going to use the evaluation she requested as expert testimony.
“The rules are not intended to encourage litigants to indulge in gamesmanship,” Segal wrote in her decision.
Segal also pointed out that Mailhoit has not yet offered specifics when outlining the emotional damage she has suffered.
“Even if plaintiff could not be compelled to produce [the] report before the expert disclosure deadline, neither should she be given an advantage at trial because she gave vague initial disclosures and incomplete … responses regarding her emotional distress damages,” Segal wrote.
The evaluation must be completed by Feb. 1 and may last up to eight hours, according to Segal’s decision.
Follow Mark Kellam on Twitter: @LAMarkKellam.