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PRESS RELEASE
3-14-12

Family Video to Pay $70,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

Sales Associate Harassed Because of His Depression and Anxiety Disorder, Then Fired for Complaining, Federal Agency Charged

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today filed a consent decree resolving a disability discrimination lawsuit brought against Family Video Movie Club, Inc., known as Family Video, a Glenview, Ill.-based retailer of movies and games.  Family Video is the largest privately-owned movie and game retailer in the United States and operates more than 735 Family Video stores in 19 states with more than 7,000 employees. 

According to EEOC’s lawsuit, (EEOC v. Family Video Movie Club, Inc., d/b/a Family Video, Civil Action No. 1:12-cv-192 RJA), brought under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), Family Video subjected Jeffrey Spoonley, a sales associate with major depression and social anxiety disorder, to harassment because of his disability, and terminated him after he complained of the harassment.

The EEOC filed this suit on March 1, 2012 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  EEOC and Family Video entered into a three-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit that has been submitted to U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara for approval.

As part of the consent decree, Family Video has agreed to pay Spoonley $70,000 in monetary relief.  The consent decree also enjoins Family Video from engaging in further disability discrimination or retaliation, and requires Family Video to hire an equal employment opportunity (EEO) coordinator to implement discrimination policies and procedures, provide training, monitor and investigate discrimination complaints.

Elizabeth Grossman, the EEOC’s regional attorney for the New York District Office, said, “Employers cannot harass, discriminate or fire employees with disabilities based on perceptions or prejudice.  The EEOC will continue to vigorously enforce federal law by prosecuting companies which discriminate by firing workers because of their disabilities or retaliate against employees who complain about such discrimination.” 

“We are pleased with the relief provided by the consent decree,” said EEOC trial attorney Judith Biltekoff, who handled the case.  “It provides significant relief for Mr. Spoonley and protections against discrimination for the employees of Family Video.”  

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.