Employee With Epilepsy Discriminated Against in Violation of ADA, Federal Agency Charges
DENVER – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit yesterday against Western Trading Company, Inc., an Army-Navy surplus company in metro Denver. The lawsuit alleges three violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) based on Western Trading’s dealings with Tyler Riley, an employee with epilepsy who has grand mal seizures and who briefly worked for the company.
According to the EEOC’s complaint, Tyler Riley worked for Western Trading less than a week before having a seizure on the job. The EEOC alleges that Riley was allowed to return to work after providing three separate releases from his doctors, but was then sent home again when Western Trading learned of a second seizure during his off-duty hours. The lawsuit alleges that despite additional information from Riley’s doctors, he was never allowed to return to work. Based on these allegations, EEOC asserts that Western Trading failed to make reasonable accommodations for Riley and terminated him in violation of the ADA. The EEOC also alleges that Western Trading unlawfully kept Riley’s medical records with his other personnel information.
The EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. Western Trading Co., Inc., Case #10-cv-02387-MSK-MEH) in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement. The suit seeks monetary damages, including back pay, compensation for emotional distress and punitive damages. The EEOC also seeks injunctive relief prohibiting further discrimination by the employer and mandating corrective action.
“Myths, fears, or stereotypes about epilepsy are insufficient grounds for refusing to accommodate the disability or for terminating an employee with epilepsy,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “Indeed, the ADA was created to combat such stereotypes.”
EEOC Phoenix District Office Acting District Director Rayford Irvin added, “Our investigation into this charge revealed that Mr. Riley provided his employer with several assurances that it was safe for him to work. An employer cannot simply disregard medical providers’ statements in favor of unsupported conjecture or speculation.”
Further information about the EEOC and its power to enforce federal workforce discrimination laws is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.