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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
3-23-12

Adams Jeep of Maryland to Pay $50,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Auto  Dealership Harassed and Fired Worker Because of Bipolarism, Agency Charged

BALTIMORE – An Aberdeen, Md.,  auto dealership will pay $50,000 and furnish other remedial relief to settle a  disability discrimination and harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According  to EEOC’s suit, Adams Jeep of Maryland, Inc., engaged in unlawful  discrimination when it denied a reasonable accommodation to Amy Smith shortly  after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and because of her record of  disability. Further, the EEOC said, the  company subjected her to harassment and fired her.

Smith had been employed since  October 2009 as a telephone operator and promoted to an accounts  payable/receivables position, when she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in  or around March 2010. After Smith  disclosed her disorder to the office manager and assistant manager, she was subjected  to epithets such as “pill popper” and “psycho.”  While out on a medical leave of absence and under a doctor’s care, Smith  was fired.

The  Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it unlawful to harass or  discriminate against a qualified individual because of a disability or a record  of disability. An employer is required  to make a reasonable accommodation to the known disability of a qualified  applicant or employee if it would not impose an undue hardship on the  operations of the employer’s business.  The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 1:11-cv-02813) in U.S. District  Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, after first attempting  to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Along with  the monetary payment to Smith, which represents back pay and compensatory  damages, the consent decree settling the lawsuit requires that Adams Jeep of  Maryland institute and distribute a written policy to all employees on disability  discrimination and harassment. The  policy will contain procedures for employees requesting reasonable  accommodations under the ADA,  and include medical leave as a reasonable accommodation. Additionally, the dealership will provide  four hours of training to all current and new supervisors, post a notice affirming its commitment to all  federal equal employment opportunity laws and submit reports to EEOC for the  agreement’s two-year duration.

“The work force includes many people with psychiatric disabilities who face employment discrimination because of their conditions, which are stigmatized or misunderstood,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “Adams Jeep has worked with EEOC to obtain an early resolution of this litigation, an outcome that furthers the goal of providing a work environment free of disability harassment and discrimination.”

According to its website, (www.adamsjeepofmaryland.com) the company is “the No. 1 selling Jeep dealership in Harford, Cecil, and Baltimore Counties.”

During fiscal year 2011, disability  discrimination charges filed with the EEOC reached a record level of 25,742  nationwide.

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