U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Retirement Community Removed Accommodations for Disability and Reduced Hours of Dietary Aide, Federal Agency Charged
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Presbyterian Village Inc., a retirement community in Little Rock, Ark., will pay $30,000 to settle a disability and retaliation discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC’s suit (Civil Action No. 4:09-CV-0766 BSM) charged that Presbyterian Village ceased accommodating and then drastically reduced the hours of a dietary aide because of his disability. The man has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and partial paralysis stemming from a stroke suffered in infancy which causes him to walk with a limp and limits the use of his left arm and hand. He also has some cognitive impairments.
According to the EEOC, however, the aide had worked at Presbyterian Village from 2003 through 2007 without problems or incidents. He had successfully performed the duties of dietary aide with minor accommodations, such as being assigned one task at a time rather than several, and being spared having to do mopping or heavy trash lifting because of his limited dexterity. The man had always received “satisfactory” performance evaluations before the hire of a new dietary services manager. After the hire of the new manager in 2008, however, the aide’s accommodations were ended and his hours were reduced in retaliation for complaining.
Disability discrimination and retaliation for complaining about it violate the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.
In addition to the monetary relief, the consent decree settling the suit, approved by U.S. District Judge D.P. Marshall, Jr., provides that Presbyterian Village shall not deny reasonable accommodation to the aide as a qualified individual with a disability and shall engage in an interactive process to determine reasonable accommodations for him when requested. Presbyterian Village will also revise its existing policy prohibiting disability discrimination to outline the procedures by which an employee shall request an accommodation and the procedures by which the company will determine if the accommodation will cause an undue hardship. Further, the decree requires the company to provide training to its supervisory and management personnel on disability discrimination; to submit two reports to the EEOC on the training and any requests for an accommodation; and to post a notice reinforcing the company’s policies on the ADA.
“The EEOC is pleased that the parties were able to resolve this matter and that this employee is currently working and doing very well,” said Regional Attorney Faye A. Williams of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and certain counties in Mississippi. “This case demonstrates the EEOC’s commitment to combating discrimination that prevents qualified individuals with disabilities from being successful in the workplace.”
According to company information, Presbyterian Village is a retirement community offering housing and services for independent living, residential care, and skilled nursing in Little Rock.
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.