Disability Service Provider Refused to Hire Applicant Because of Partial Hand Paralysis, Federal Agency Charged
VALLEJO, Calif. - Solano County disability services provider Pace Solano agreed to pay $130,000 and implement preventative measures to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Pace Solano withdrew its offer of an instructor position after Katrina Holly disclosed during the pre-employment physical exam that she has partial paralysis in her left hand. Even though Holly successfully completed all tests and was cleared to do the job by Pace Solano's own occupational health provider, it refused to hire Holly because of her hand situation. Holly had applied for the job at the encouragement of a Pace Solano employee who thought she would work well with their clientele, who are people with developmental disabilities.
"I was really at a loss about what to do when I learned my job offer was withdrawn simply because of my hand," Holly said. "I am grateful to the EEOC for advocating for workers like me to have the opportunity to prove what we can do, instead of being underestimated due to a disability."
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from refusing to hire employees based on a disability. After first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through conciliation efforts, the EEOC filed the suit (EEOC v. Pace Solano, Civil Action No. CV 12-01823 MCE-DAD) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
Under the five-year consent decree settling the suit, signed by Judge Morrison C. England, Pace Solano will pay Holly $130,000. Also, the company will provide anti-discrimination training to HR and supervisory personnel; develop written policies on disability discrimination; post a notice regarding the terms of the decree; and make periodic reports to the EEOC regarding hiring and training.
"When a county disability services provider commits obvious disability discrimination, that shows the crying need for the ADA and for the EEOC to enforce it," said EEOC Regional Attorney William Tamayo. "And enforcing the ADA continues to be a priority at the EEOC. Disability does not mean inability, and employers who make that mistake and reject qualified applicants run the risk of an enforcement lawsuit by the EEOC."
EEOC District Director Michael Baldonado said, "We commend Pace Solano for agreeing to take comprehensive measures to ensure that capable applicants like Holly are considered based on their ability to do their job and not myths, fears and stereotypes. When employers take measures to ensure the job selection process is based on nondiscriminatory factors, we all win."
According to the organization's website at pacesolano.org, Pace Solano employs nearly 200 individuals and provides day programming and life skills training services to 380 clients with developmental disabilities.
The EEOC enforces the nation's laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Additional information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.