MIAMI - In a verdict in favor of U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a jury has found that a licensed security guard with only one arm was unlawfully discriminated against based on his limb loss when his employer, removed him from his post following a customer complaint about his disability, the federal agency announced today.
The EEOC's lawsuit charged Florida Commercial Security Services with disability discrimination when it removed Alberto Tarud-Saieh, who had who lost his right arm in a car accident, from his $8-an-hour security guard position after the president of the community association where he was stationed complained, "The company is a joke. You sent me a one-armed security guard." The EEOC said the company removed Tarud-Saieh from his post and failed to reassign him to another post, effectively terminating his employment.
At trial, the EEOC argued based on well-settled law that reliance on discriminatory customer preferences and stereotypes about what individuals with disabilities can and cannot do violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 13-20465) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
"It is unfortunate that disability discrimination in the workplace persists," said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez. "As we have shown, the EEOC will take those cases to trial, if necessary, to vindicate the rights of the victims."
In addition to the monetary damages awarded by the jury totaling $35,922, the EEOC will seek an injunction prohibiting discrimination in the future by the defendant as well as other equitable and injunctive relief, including training and the implementation of anti-discrimination employment policies to be determined by the court.
EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg said, "The EEOC always tries to resolve cases informally whenever it can, but when resolution is not possible, we will try the case to verdict to ensure that employers will be held accountable for discriminatory practices."
Kristen Foslid, who along with fellow Senior Trial Attorney Aarrin Golson tried the case for the EEOC's Miami District Office, said, "I worked with Mr. Tarud-Saieh for over a year and a half and personally saw how the discrimination affected him. He was vindicated when the jury agreed with him that he could perform the job he is licensed to do. He hopes that other employers will get the message that they cannot rely on stereotypes and assumptions, and must treat people based on their actual abilities."
According to company information, Florida Commercial Security Services is a full-service asset protection security firm based in South Florida that does security work throughout the state.
Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.