In Oct, 2009 Ms. Smith was hired at Adams Jeep of Maryland, Inc., as a telephone operator and then promoted to an accounts payable/receivables position. When she was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder and disclosed it to the office manager and assistant manager, she was subjected to epithets such as “pill popper” and “psycho.”
It is unlawful to harass or discriminate against a qualified individual because of a disability or a record of disability. An employer is required to make a reasonable accommodation to the known disability of a qualified applicant or employee if it would not impose an undue hardship on the operations of the employer’s business.
While out on a medical leave of absence and under a doctor’s care, Ms. Smith was fired. Do you think this is an ADA violation?
This type of behavior is a clear violation of the ADA and as a result, the auto dealership will pay $50,000 and furnish other remedial relief to settle an EEOC’s disability discrimination and harassment lawsuit. Unlawful discrimination in this case included:
- Denying a qualified employee a reasonable accommodation shortly after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and because of her record of disability.
- Subjecting an employee with a disability to harassment.
- Unlawfully firing a qualified employee because of her disability.
Along with the $50,000 payment to Smith, which represents back pay and compensatory damages, the consent decree settling the lawsuit requires that Adams Jeep of Maryland do the following:
- Institute and distribute a written policy to all employees on disability discrimination and harassment. The policy will contain procedures for employees requesting reasonable accommodations under the ADA, and include medical leave as a reasonable accommodation.
- Provide 4 hours of training to all current and new supervisors.
- Post a notice affirming its commitment to all federal equal employment opportunity laws; and
- Submit reports to EEOC for two years.
During fiscal year 2011, disability discrimination charges filed with the EEOC reached a record level of 25,742 nationwide.
October is National Disability Employment Month. Take steps to assure your company provides a work environment free of disability harassment and discrimination. Springboard's Team can provide you with assistance that can customize and streamline your efforts to reduce your risk of unintentional disability discrimination.
This information should not be construed as “legal advice” for a particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended only to be a practical guide for participants familiar with this subject. Users should seek appropriate legal advice tailored to address their specific situation.