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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
3-11-13

Jury Verdict for EEOC Against Western Trading Company In Disability Case

Federal  Agency Wins $109,000 for Employee With Epilepsy Discriminated Against in  Violation of Federal Law

DENVER - A unanimous jury in federal court in Denver yesterday  found for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in its  disability discrimination lawsuit against Western Trading Company, Inc., an  Army-Navy surplus company in metro Denver (EEOC v. Western Trading Co., Inc., Case #10-cv-02387-MJM-MJW).  The jury awarded  $109,000 for Tyler Riley, an employee who was fired because of his seizure  disorder. 

According  to the EEOC's complaint, Riley worked for Western Trading less than a week  before having a seizure on the job.  The EEOC alleges that Riley was allowed to return to work  after providing three separate releases from his doctors, but was then sent  home again when Western Trading learned of a second seizure during his  off-duty hours.  The lawsuit alleged that  despite additional information from Riley's doctors, he was never allowed to  return to work.  Based on these  allegations, EEOC asserted that Western Trading failed to make reasonable  accommodations for Riley and terminated him in violation of the ADA.  The EEOC also alleged that Western Trading  unlawfully kept Riley's medical records with his other personnel information.

Such  alleged conduct violates Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to  reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The  federal jury found that Western Trading violated federal anti-discrimination  laws by terminating Tyler Riley because of his disability, epilepsy.  The jury awarded Riley $24,000 in back pay, $20,000 in compensation for emotional distress  and $65,000 in punitive damages.  The  EEOC is also seeking injunctive relief prohibiting further discrimination by  the employer and mandating corrective action.   Post-trial motions for injunctive relief will be filed with the court in  the coming days.

"The  ADA ensures that persons with epilepsy and other disabilities will have fair  employment opportunities that are not impeded by 'myths, fears, and  stereotypes," said EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez.  "The EEOC always stands willing to resolve  matters informally, but, when necessary, will proceed to trial."

This  is the latest in a series of several EEOC trial victories over the past six  months.  Others included EEOC v.  RadioShack, EEOC v. AA  Foundries, Inc.,andEEOC  v. A.C. Widenhouse, Inc.

EEOC Trial Attorney Sean Ratliff, one of the lawyers from  the EEOC who tried the case in federal court, said, "We laud Mr. Riley's  courage in standing up and opposing this unfair treatment and we are proud to  have helped him achieve justice." 

EEOC Denver Field Director Nancy Sienko added, "Our investigation  into this charge revealed that Mr. Riley provided his employer with several  assurances that it was safe for him to work.   An employer cannot simply disregard medical providers' statements in  favor of unsupported conjecture or speculation."

Further information about the EEOC and its power to enforce  federal workforce discrimination laws is available on its web site at   www.eeoc.gov