PETCO Animal Supplies Stores Inc. will pay $145,000 and provide internal training among other things to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC, charging PETCO with failing to accommodate a pet groomer who is deaf. Upon hire, the former employee was assured by management that other employees would assist in scheduling her appointments via telephone as a reasonable accommodation.
However, EEOC asserted that “a PETCO manager eventually refused to schedule customers for this employee, despite their specific requests on her behalf. Additionally, employees inaccurately informed customers that the employee no longer worked for the company, scheduling them with non-disabled groomers. PETCO then unfairly penalized her during annual performance reviews for ineffective communication skills due to her inability to speak. The employee eventually resigned in 2006.
This month we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the ADA. It is important to remember that employees with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations and to keep in mind that most often, as was the case here, the cost of an accommodation is minimal and even more so when compared to the cost of an EEOC settlement.