Company Violated ADAAA Disability Law, EEOC Charged
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – D&H Company, Dodge Brothers, Inc., and Giant Oil Company of Arkansas, Inc., doing business as Savings Station Dodge Stores and Dodge’s Chicken Store, will pay $190,000 to settle a disability lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that the companies denied the store leader of their Dodge’s Chicken Store 631 in Hot Springs, Ark., a reasonable accommodation after she had seizures. Because her doctor restricted her from driving, she requested that the employer allow another employee to conduct daily competitor gasoline price surveys while she handled that employee's in-store duties. The defendants denied her request for an accommodation and discharged her.
Denial of a reasonable accommodation to people with disabilities violates Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) as amended by the Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). The EEOC filed suit on Sept. 28, 2010, No. 6:10-cv-06072, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, Hot Springs Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. This case was among the agency’s first lawsuits filed under the ADAAA.
EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez noted that President Barack Obama recognized October 2011 as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
“The Commission has devoted considerable attention to ensuring compliance with the ADA through the issuance of policy and public attention,” said Lopez. “As reflected by this case, however, the EEOC, when necessary, is prepared to litigate to ensure that persons with disabilities have fair opportunity for economic independence. Indeed, last fiscal year, the EEOC filed approximately 60 disability discrimination cases.”
Faye A. Williams, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, added, “Reasonable accommodations allow many individuals with disabilities to work. Employers should understand their obligation to provide an employee with a reasonable accommodation unless it poses an undue hardship. The EEOC remains committed to its responsibility in enforcing the ADA.”
In addition to monetary relief, the terms of the 30-month consent decree require that the defendants create a disability policy in its employee handbook for distribution to all its employees; provide for training under the ADA; maintain records of any disability complaints; provide reports to the EEOC; and post a notice to employees about the lawsuit that includes the EEOC’s contact information.
Defendants own and operate convenience stores and gas retailers in 10 states including Arkansas and Mississippi and collectively employ more than 700 people.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.