Management Allowed Disabled Worker to be Insulted and Threatened, Federal Agency Charges
PHILADELPHIA – A Philadelphia-based McDonald’s franchise violated federal civil rights law when it condoned the harassment of a worker with an intellectual disability, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
Timothy Artis was discriminated against based on his disability when he was repeatedly called degrading names and subjected to physical threats, according to the EEOC’s suit against Alstrun LLP, doing business as McDonald’s, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Civil Action No. 09-4347. Artis successfully performed his duties as a lot and lobby worker, but his supervisors, other managers and co-workers repeatedly called him derogatory names such as “dumb,” “retarded” and “stupid.” The harassment included being physically grabbed and shoved. On one occasion, a co-worker even threatened him with a box cutter, the EEOC charged. Artis was also forced to perform hazardous duties outside of his job description, such as removing a raccoon from a trash can.
The restaurant failed to stop the harassment despite repeated complaints from Artis’s mother about the mistreatment and abuse, the EEOC said. Artis was forced to quit due to the ongoing harassment.
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination and harassment based on disability. The EEOC attempted to reach a voluntary settlement before filing suit. The EEOC is seeking injunctive relief to prevent future harassment, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.
During Fiscal Year 2008, disability discrimination charges rose to 19,453-- an increase of 10 percent from the prior fiscal year and the highest number of disability charges filed with the EEOC in 14 years.
“The ADA was enacted to ensure that qualified employees with intellectual disabilities would have the right to work without being subjected to physical threats or demeaning and humiliating taunts,” said Acting Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Maryland and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. “This lawsuit should remind employers that the EEOC will not allow harassment of disabled employees to go unchallenged.”
According to company records, Alstrun LLP operates five McDonald’s franchises in Pennsylvania.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on September 24, 2009.
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