EEOC Obtains $30,000 for Woman With Paralyzed Arm Fired Within Hours of Starting Work
SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Los Gatos, Calif.-based solar power company Akeena Solar will pay $30,000 to a payroll/accounts technician and implement preventative measures to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
This resolved the EEOC’s suit alleging that Gladys Tellez, a 44-year-old Latina hired to be a payroll/accounts technician on November 13, 2006, was fired by Akeena Solar within hours of her first day at work the next day, after her supervisor discovered that her left arm was paralyzed. The EEOC’s investigation determined that Tellez was fully qualified and capable of performing the essential functions of the position despite her disability.
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments. After a neutral investigation conducted by EEOC Investigator Juan Vaca and first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through conciliation, the EEOC filed the suit (EEOC v. Akeena Solar, Inc., Civ. No. C08-4527 PVT) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Under the terms of the consent decree, Akeena Solar will pay Tellez $30,000 in damages, post a notice in the workplace concerning the company’s commitment to complying with the ADA, institute annual training on preventing disability discrimination to staff involved in hiring and recruitment, and to report to the EEOC any disability discrimination complaints that arise for the next three years.
“All too frequently, the mainstream public, including employers, perceive people with disabilities through a filter of upon myths and stereotypes, instead of assessing each person on their own terms,” said EEOC Regional Attorney William Tamayo. “In Ms. Tellez’s case, she was not even given a full day to prove herself. We hope this resolution will encourage employers to give persons with disabilities a fair shot at establishing their individual worth and value at work.”
EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado noted, “A truly ‘green’ business will make the most of human resources as well as energy sources. This settlement benefits Akeena Solar’s workforce by ensuring that management is educated to recognize and prevent disability bias.”
According to its web site, www.akeena.net, Akeena Solar is one of the leading designers and integrators of solar power photovoltaic systems for residential and commercial customers in California, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Additional information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.