AT&T Services, Inc. (AT&T) will pay a former employee $60,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). EEOC charged that AT&T violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to hire an applicant as a cable splicer technician in Austin, TX only because of his “insulin use” for type 2 diabetes. The applicant indisputably had the necessary experience and expertise to perform the job, the EEOC said, and had previously safely performed a similar job for AT&T for many years after he was diagnosed with diabetes.
The ADA protects workers with disabilities from discriminatory treatment including hiring and firing.
What employers need to remember is that refusing to hire a qualified individual because of his or her disability, record of disability, or because the employer perceives a person as being disabled, violates the ADA. In the Settlement Agreement, EEOC stated that “Employers who respond to individuals who have disabilities with knee-jerk exclusions based on myths, fears and stereotypes, rather than considering individual abilities, put themselves at risk.”