The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes workplace harassment and discrimination based on disability unlawful. Yet, many employers still just do not get it.
A few days ago, Toys R Us, settled a disability discrimination law suit based on its refusal to accommodate an applicant during the interview process and refusing to hire the applicant because the applicant was deaf. The disability discrimination settlement for $35,000 directly debunks a few misconceptions about employment discrimination claims.
The first misconception is that potential employers do not need to provide accommodations to applicants. The toy store giant was clear in the wrong when Shakirra Thomas, the applicant, was refused her request for an interpreter for the group interview that Toys R Us invited her to based on her application materials, according to the lawsuit. Instead, according to the disability discrimination law suit, when Toys R Us rejected the reasonable request for accommodation, it told Thomas that she was responsible for bringing her own interpreter to the interview. Under both the ADA and Ohio disability discrimination laws, employers are required provide reasonable accommodations to any individuals with disabilities, expressly including to applicants.
Second, there is a common misconception that employment discrimination cases always deal with a wrongful termination. As our employment lawyers will tell you, this is simply not true. Any adverse employment action can be the basis of an employment discrimination claim. We have previously blogged about what constitutes an adverse employment action for an employment discrimination claim. Failure to hire is, and always will be, an adverse employment action.
Third, most people believe that the amount of damages is based on the length of employment before the wrongful discriminatory conduct. Again, our employment discrimination attorneys will tell you, this is simply not true. Obviously, Thomas had not worked a day at Toys R Us. According to Glassdoor, the average Toys R Us “team member” will make $8.20 per hour and $16,394 per year. The $35,000 settlement represents over two years salary despite the fact that Thomas had not worked a single day.
In the end, Thomas, who communicates through American Sign Language, reading lips and through the written word, was capable of fulfilling the duties required of the team member position with or without a reasonable accommodation. Therefore, she should have been given a chance. In the end, that is the only thing that most disable workers want – a chance. And the law requires that they get it.
Toys”R”Us, Inc., one of the world’s largest retailers of toys and juvenile products, will pay $35,000 and provide significant equitable relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit, the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, after Shakirra Thomas applied for a team member position at the retailer’s Columbia, Md., store, Toys”R”Us contacted her and requested that she attend a group interview. The EEOC said that when Thomas’s mother told Toys”R”Us that Thomas was deaf and requested that it provide an interpreter for the interview, the retailer said that Thomas communicates by using American Sign Language, reading lips and through the written word.
According to the lawsuit, Thomas’s mother interpreted for her during a group interview, but the retailer refused to hire Thomas despite her qualifications and ability to perform the team member position, with or without a reasonable accommodation.
Disability discrimination in employment violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which provides that employers provide reasonable accommodations where necessary to individuals with disabilities, including to applicants. The EEOC first attempted to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process before filing suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division (EEOC v. Toys”R”Us-Delaware, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:13-cv-00756-CCB).
“This settlement should remind all employers that, absent an undue hardship, the ADA requires providing a reasonable accommodation to job applicants and employees who request one,” said EEOC District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office. “Hiring decisions should be made based on an individual’s qualifications and not because of a disability.”
In addition to the $35,000 in monetary relief to Thomas, the three-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit enjoins Toys”R”Us from future discrimination on the basis of disability. Toys”R”Us will provide training on the ADA, including non-discriminatory interviewing and hiring practices, to managers and supervisors at its Columbia store and at 24 other stores in Maryland and Pennsylvania. The retailer will also post a notice regarding the resolution of the lawsuit.
If you are disabled or your employer perceives you as being disabled; and you have been fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, denied wages, or even think that you might need a disability discrimination lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. The best option is not to wait. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting disables employees’ rights under ADA and Ohio law.
The materials available at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. It would be best for you to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to disability discrimination questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, attorney Brian Spitz or any individual attorney.