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Ex-Dolphins scout with sick wife: I was fired for working from home

By John Breech | CBSSports.com

A former Dolphins scout claims he was illegally fired by general manager Dennis Hickey. (USATSI)
A former Dolphins scout claims he was illegally fired by general manager Dennis Hickey. (USATSI)

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From a public relations standpoint, it's been a rough six months for the Miami Dolphins. First, there was the Ted Wells investigation into workplace misconduct. Then, on the final night of the NFL Draft, defensive back Don Jones sent out a tweet critical of Michael Sam.

Now the Dolphins have another issue to deal with: A former scout, who was fired on May 12, is threatening to file a lawsuit against the team because he claims the Dolphins violated the American with Disabilities act when they let him go.

Nate Sullivan, who worked for the Dolphins for 17 years, sent an intent-to-initiate-litigation letter to the Dolphins this week, a letter that was obtained by Fox Sports 1.

In the letter, Sullivan says that he was fired because general manager Dennis Hickey didn't like that Sullivan was working from home. Sullivan had been working from home since 2004 in order to care for his wife, who has cystic fibrosis. Sullivan's wife JoAnne also has polyarteritis nodosa, a debilitating blood vessel ailment.

Sullivan had been working remotely from home, a setup that had been fine with the Dolphins' three prior general managers who served before Hickey: Jeff Ireland, Rick Spielman and Randy Mueller.

According to the letter, when the Dolphins adjusted their insurance policy in April, the only major change was that the team no longer covered cystic fibrosis medications. That change meant the Sullivans were now paying $3,000 per pill for medication that had once cost just $10.

From the letter:

It is our understanding that Cystic Fibrosis was the only terminal medical condition singled out. This drastic reduction in health care benefits jeopardized JoAnne Sullivan's ability to afford her pharmaceuticals, shifting an exorbitant financial burden on the Sullivans.

By suing the Dolphins, the Sullivans are hoping Nate will get his job back "with full healthcare benefits that continue to cover the illnesses his wife is stricken with."

According to Sullivan's attorney, Jason L. Harr, the firing violates Title 29 of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

"It is unlawful for a covered entity to exclude or deny equal jobs or benefits to, or otherwise discriminate against, a qualified individual because of the known disability of an individual with whom the qualified individual is known to have a family, business, social or other relationship or association."

The Dolphins have so far declined to comment on the possible litigation.

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