CHICAGO – A federal judge entered a consent decree on June 15 requiring a nationwide staffing company to pay $100,000 to a blind woman against whom the company discriminated because of her blindness according to a suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that Balance Staffing’s owner Robert Feinstein hired Jocelyn Snower, a recruiter, to help him launch a Balance Staffing center in Illinois, which was named Balance Financial, Inc. The EEOC said that when Robert Feinstein hired Snower, he did not realize that she was blind, but when learned she was, he immediately revoked the job offer, even though she had already started recruiting for him.
Discrimination in employment on account of disability violates Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit EEOC v. Balance Staffing and Balance Staffing d/b/a Balance Financial, Inc., No. 09 CV-06004) on September 25, 2009 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court through its conciliation process.
The three-year consent decree resolving the suit, approved by U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo. with the consent of the parties, will also require Balance Staffing and Balance Professional, Inc. to report any further complaints of disability discrimination or retaliation to the EEOC. The owner and manager of the company will also have to be trained annually on disability discrimination. The decree contains an injunction prohibiting the companies from engaging in further discrimination on the basis of disability and from retaliating against anyone who opposes disability discrimination, files a discrimination charge or participates in a government investigation, proceeding, or hearing.
John Rowe, EEOC district director in Chicago, said, “Balance Staffing’s decision to fire Ms. Snower not only reflected poor business judgment, since she is an experienced recruiter, but it was expensive misjudgment -- to the tune of $100,000.”
Regional Attorney John Hendrickson said, “The result of this case demonstrates how seriously we at EEOC take disability discrimination. Anyone who is a victim of discriminatory actions, such as those actions allegedly taken by Balance Staffing’s management, should not hesitate to bring the issue to light by notifying the EEOC. We stand ready to act in cases like this.”
The government’s litigation effort was led by EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Diane I. Smason and Trial Attorney Laura R. Feldman.
According to Balance Staffing’s website (www.balancestaff.com), Balance Staffing provides personalized staffing services, with locations in California, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. The website also states that Balance Staffing handles the administrative tasks of hiring, recruiting, and employing personnel; various divisions include manufacturing, clerical, hospitality, engineering, construction, and light industrial.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.