Hard-of-Hearing Employee Fired for Requesting Accommodations, Federal Agency Charged
WILMINGTON, Del. - D.O.E. Technologies, Inc. and a related company, doeLegal, LLC will pay $130,000 and furnish other relief to settle a federal disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The Wilmington-based companies sell e-billing, electronic discovery and litigation management products to law firms and corporate legal departments.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Christopher Vely, a sales representative with unilateral conductive hearing loss, repeatedly asked the companies' management to provide the reasonable accommodation of permitting him to telecommute or to work in a quiet area because his disability impaired his ability to make sales calls from his cubicle in the companies' noisy sales office. The companies initially allowed Vely to make calls from his home, but later rescinded his full-time telework arrangement, failed to provide an alternate reasonable accommodation, and refused to engage in the interactive process to determine a suitable alternate reasonable accommodation. In addition, the companies fired Vely in retaliation for his request for a reasonable accommodation, the EEOC alleged.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on disability. The law also requires an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee with a disability unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer. The EEOC filed suit its lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, Civil Action No. 11-cv-000861, after first attempting to resolve the matter through its conciliation process.
"It's not only good business sense for employers to make simple and inexpensive modifications to the workplace for a qualified employee with a disability - such as allowing sales calls to be made in a quiet room or permitting telecommuting for certain jobs - but federal law requires that they make a good-faith effort to do so," said EEOC Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., of the EEOC's Philadelphia District Office.
In addition to the $130,000 in monetary relief to Vely, the two-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit enjoins D.O.E. Technologies and doeLegal from engaging in any adverse employment actions or retaliation in violation of the ADA and requires the companies to provide reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities. The companies must provide training on the ADA to all managers and employees and distribute modified ADA reasonable accommodation and anti-retaliation policies. The companies will post a notice regarding the resolution of the lawsuit and will report to the EEOC regarding its compliance with the consent decree.
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "This settlement, and in particular the extensive training requirements and expanded company policies on providing reasonable accommodations and preventing retaliation, should protect all employees and applicants at these companies from any disability-based discrimination."
The EEOC's Philadelphia District Office oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.