Visually impaired professor sues Our Lady of Holy Cross on disability discrimination claims

Michelle Keahey Jun. 22, 2011, 2:00am

A professor at a New Orleans Catholic college has filed a discrimination lawsuit against his former employer claiming he was terminated due to his visual impairment.

Claiming violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Dennis "Dan" Fontenot filed suit against Our Lady of Holy Cross College on June 9 in federal court in New Orleans.

Fontenot began his employment at the college as an assistant professor in December 1995. He states he never received an unsatisfactory evaluation and was promoted to the status of full professor in 2005.

According to the lawsuit, over the years Fontenot developed diabetic retinal neuropathy and became visually impaired. In May 2009, Fontenot was informed that due to "concern" about his health, his contract for the following academic year would not be renewed.

The plaintiff is seeking damages for back pay, compensatory damages including medical expenses, college tuition expenses, future pecuniary damages, damages for emotional distress, lost wages and benefits, punitive damages and attorney's fees.

Fontenot is represented by Nancy Picard and Christina L. Carroll of Robein, Urann, Spencer, Picard & Cangemi in Metairie. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:11-cv-01375

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