Federal Agency Says Company Fired Successful Worker Because He Had a Disability
PHOENIX -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that it has filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against Phoenix-area property management firms Riverstone Residential, SW, LLC and Realty Management, charging the companies with firing and failing to accommodate an employee because he had a disability.
According to the EEOC’s suit, EEOC v. Riverstone Residential, SW, LLC; Realty Management, CV-09-02038 PHX-JAT, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona in Phoenix, Realty Management / Riverstone Residential hired Shaun Oldridge, but on or about March 21, 2008, Oldridge informed Realty Management that he had been involuntarily hospitalized, whereupon Realty Management unlawfully discharged him. The suit further charged that during his employment, Oldridge requested on a number of occasions to have one hour off to see his health care provider. Each request for this reasonable accommodation was unlawfully refused, the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments.
The EEOC filed suit after exhausting its conciliation efforts to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement. The agency is seeking monetary relief including back pay with pre-judgment interest, compensatory damages, and punitive damages. The Commission is also seeking an injunction prohibiting future discrimination and any other curative relief to prevent Riverstone Residential from engaging in any further discriminatory practices.
“People with disabilities are an untapped resource that employers should utilize,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “Many disabled persons are qualified, ready and willing to work -- all they need is an equal opportunity. Cases such as these are important to society because they confirm that workers who want to work, but are prevented from doing so by employers because of a real or perceived disability, are protected by the law.”
Rayford O. Irvin, acting district director of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, added, “We will continue to vigorously pursue our mission of fighting employment discrimination on all fronts. We encourage employers and employees to sit down together and cooperate to find an accommodation that works for all parties involved, regardless of the disability.”
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing the nation’s laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The EEOC’s Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque). Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.