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Trucking Company Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination

By Peter Levine posted in Discrimination, Employment Law, Law on November 15th, 2013

CTI, Inc., a Tucson Area Trucking Company, Sued by the EEOC For Disability Discrimination

CTI, Inc., a Tucson-area regional trucking company has been charged by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with violating federal law due to its practice of automatically firing employees after medical leave without considering or offering possible reasonable accommodations.

According to the suit, Elizabeth Barr, a CTI payroll and billing clerk, who suffered from a rare eye disease that substantially limited her eyesight, needed multiple surgeries to correct her eyesight. She requested and used leave accorded to her under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This entitles eligible employees of covered employers to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period. Before her leave was to expire CTI informed Barr that if her doctor did not release her to “full, unrestricted duty,” her employment and benefits might be terminated. Barr requested additional time for recovery, but CTI denied her and refused to explore possible accommodations for Barr.

EEOC Alleges Disability Discrimination Cause for CTI’s Termination of Employee

The EEOC alleges that CTI terminated Barr’s employment because of her disability and/or because she asked for a possible accommodation and also that other employees were discharged because of their disabilities and/or because they needed reasonable accommodations.

Such alleged actions violate Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This Act prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities. Initial attempts were made through the EEOC’s conciliation process to reach a pre-litigation settlement, but failed. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages that include back pay, compensation for emotional distress, as well as punitive damages in addition to injunctive relief, that includes the reinstatement of the affected individuals and other relief to prevent further discriminatory practices.

“Recent amendments to the ADA make clear that the protections for persons with disabilities should be broadly applied,” said EEOC Phoenix Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “Individuals with disabilities are an untapped resource that employers should utilize. Many are qualified, ready and willing to work — all they need is an equal opportunity.”

EEOC District Director Rayford O. Irvin added, “Once an employee asks for a reasonable accommodation, the employer is required to engage in an interactive process to see if there are ways that the employee can be accommodated, rather than simply firing the employee. We will continue to vigorously pursue our mission of fighting employment discrimination on all fronts. Employers have a legal obligation to provide reasonable accommodations unless there is an undue hardship.”

Peter K. Levine
A Professional Law Corporation
http://www.employmentforall.org/

Human Relations Commission charged with Race Discrimination

By Peter Levine posted in Discrimination, Employment Law, Law on November 14th, 2013

The PA Agengy That Handled Employment Discrimination is Charged With Employment Discrimination!

The Pennsylvania agency that handles discrimination in employment, housing, education, public accommodations and property issuesis finding itself the target of a federal discrimination lawsuit. Attorney Kathryn L. Waters is claiming she was denied the agency’s top executive post because she is black.

Waters is seeking $581,941 in damages after the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a letter finding there is “reasonable cause” for Waters to pursue her discrimination claim against the Human Relations Commission.

Waters alleges she should have been chosen for the position of executive director in mid-2011. Instead, the commission chose a white woman, JoAnn L. Edwards of Lebanon, a veteran human relations executive in the nonprofit sector.

In her lawsuit Waters claims she was better qualified for the job and that the Human Relations Commission’s decision not to hire her was in violation of her civil rights.

Waters filed the lawsuit after the commission refused to negotiate with her about the discrimination claims. She is representing herself in the lawsuit and has asked the judge presiding over the case, Judge Yvette Kane to allow her to proceed under pauper status. Waters’ only income is from working at a Harrisburg day care center.

The EEOC did, however deny her allegation that she had been discriminated against when she was not hired for a special assistant job at the Human Relations Commission in November 2011, noting the hiring for that job was based on rankings devised by a colorblind computer program.

However, the executive director position hiring was based on recommendations of a search committee that considered 60 candidates. Waters claims the hiring committee improperly lowered her ranking among those candidates from the No. 2 spot to the No. 4 spot. At that point the agency officials decided to consider only the top three applicants for the second round of employment interviews.

Water alleges Edwards was originally ranked fourth on the candidate list. The EEOC found that, while the commission claimed Edwards scored highest in an evaluation of the three finalists, another black woman actually ranked higher by the search committee, but was not hired. The EEOC also concluded that Waters’ qualifications for the executive director job actually did exceed Edwards’ qualifications.

EEOC Concluded Race Discrimination Not a Factor in Commission’s Hiring

The EEOC concluded the Human Relation Commission’s claim that race was not a factor in Edwards’ hiring “does not withstand scrutiny” and that there are grounds to believe that discrimination might have occurred. The EEOC also denied a Human Relation Commission request that the EEOC reconsider its finding in the Waters case and urged the matter be resolved through a conciliation process.

The matter was referred to the U.S Department of Justice, which sent Waters a letter stating that it would not file a lawsuit over the dispute but she had a right to file her own lawsuit under the federal Civil Rights Act. The letter also stated “This should not be taken to mean that the Department of Justice has made a judgment as to whether or not your charge is meritorious.”

Peter K. Levine
A Professional Law Corporation
http://www.employmentforall.org/

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