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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
2-10-10

Akeena Solar Settles Disability Discrimination Suit

EEOC Obtains $30,000 for Woman With Paralyzed Arm Fired Within Hours of Starting Work

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Los Gatos, Calif.-based solar power  company Akeena Solar will pay $30,000 to a payroll/accounts technician and  implement preventative measures to settle a federal disability discrim­ination  lawsuit, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.

This resolved the EEOC’s suit  alleging that Gladys Tellez, a 44-year-old Latina hired to be a payroll/accounts  technician on November 13, 2006, was fired by Akeena Solar within hours of her  first day at work the next day, after her supervisor discovered that her left  arm was paralyzed. The EEOC’s  investigation determined that Tellez was fully qualified and capable of  performing the essential functions of the position despite her disability.

Title I of the  Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employment discrimination  against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local  governments. After a neutral investigation  conducted by EEOC Investigator Juan Vaca and first attempting to reach a  voluntary settlement through conciliation, the EEOC filed the suit (EEOC v. Akeena  Solar, Inc., Civ. No. C08-4527 PVT) in U.S. District Court for the  Northern District of California.

Under the terms of the consent  decree, Akeena Solar will pay Tellez $30,000 in damages, post a notice in the  workplace concerning the company’s commitment to complying with the ADA,  institute annual training on preventing disability discrimination to staff  involved in hiring and recruitment, and to report to the EEOC any disability  discrimination complaints that arise for the next three years.

“All too frequently, the mainstream  public, including employers, perceive people with disabilities through a filter  of upon myths and stereotypes, instead of assessing each person on their own  terms,” said EEOC Regional Attorney William Tamayo. “In Ms. Tellez’s case, she was not even given  a full day to prove herself. We hope  this resolution will encourage employers to give persons with disabilities a  fair shot at establishing their individual worth and value at work.”

EEOC San Francisco District Director  Michael Baldonado noted, “A truly ‘green’ business will make the most of human  resources as well as energy sources. This  settlement benefits Akeena Solar’s workforce by ensuring that management is  educated to recognize and prevent disability bias.”

According to its web site,  www.akeena.net, Akeena Solar is one of the leading designers and integrators of  solar power photovoltaic systems for residential and commercial customers in California, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

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