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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
10-19-12

DuPriest and Sons To Pay $24,000 to Silk-Screener Fired Because of Disability

EEOC Lawsuit Alleged DuPriest and Sons Laid Off  Worker Due to His Need For Dialysis

DALLAS - DuPriest and Sons Holding and other related  entities that owned and operated a Dallas silk-screening company have agreed to  pay a long-term former employee $24,000 to settle a disability discrimination  lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the  agency announced today.  The EEOC had  charged that DuPriest violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by  selecting an employee for layoff because of a recent hospitalization for  diabetes and kidney failure.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, after 38 years on the job, Alfred  Garza was informed of his selection for termination soon after he informed the  employer that he would be needing dialysis in the near future.  A member of management told him that the  company could "no longer afford" him.  In  an atmosphere where another manager in the family-run company used to kick  Garza's cane as a "joke," Garza realized that his declining health was being  used against him when the choices were made for layoff.

Removing a  qualified employee from the workplace because of a disability violates the ADA.   The EEOC investigated the case and then filed suit in the U.S.  District Court for the Northern District of Texas (Civil Action No.  3:11-CV-2525-G), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement  through its concilia­tion process.

"I am 'old school,'" said Garza, who lives near the  company's former Oak Cliff location. "I got up every day at 5 a.m. and went to  work. Even if I was sick I would still go.  Some nights I would come home exhausted and  the night supervisor would call me with questions.  If he needed help, I would go back to work to  help him.  After my selection for layoff,  I went through a mourning period.  Days  would go by in which I wouldn't talk to my wife or my granddaughter. There were  also days in which I couldn't eat."

  In addition to the monetary relief for Garza, approved by  the court in a consent decree, the company, which has been sold, has agreed to  provide training to management regarding the ADA in the event it goes back into  business under the same or a different name, and the new company will be  enjoined from discriminating against employees based on their disability.

"As a  former Marine, Mr. Garza was tough," said Toby Wosk Costas, supervisory trial  attorney for the Dallas District Office.   "But who could be prepared to report to work in the morning, be led to  the loading dock, and be told there that you were picked for layoff, after  almost four decades on the job?  He  immediately regretted informing management about his eventual need for  dialysis, but it was too late."

Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC's Dallas  District Office, said, "We are glad that after all Mr. Garza had given of  himself to the employer, he didn't just decide to give up when the company  tried to bring his tenure to a premature close.   The ADA isn't just about hiring qualified persons who may have some  limiting health conditions, it is also about retaining and accommodating  employees who may develop impairments while working, and who can still perform  their jobs."

Janet Elizondo, district director for the Dallas District  Office, added, "We feel satisfied, based on the terms of this settlement, that  if the company decides to return to opera­tions, it will engage in a more constructive  approach to avoiding discrimination against persons with disabilities.  That is our dual objective - to seek a remedy  for the individual harmed, and to prevent recurrence in the future."

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.   Further information about the EEOC is  available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.