Federal Agency Says Company Withdrew Job Offer Because Applicant's Wife Had Disability
ATLANTA - Waste Connections, Inc. (WCI) of Houston, Texas will pay $45,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
In the summer of 2013, WCI offered a pilot's job to John Frame. During a call from WCI offering him the job, Frame mentioned his wife's disability, at which time WCI ended the telephone call, then called back and withdrew its job offer within hours. EEOC alleged that WCI's decision was based entirely on its learning of Frame's wife's disability status, not on his qualifications or experience as a pilot.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on an employee's (or potential employee's) association with a person who has a disability. EEOC filed suit on Sept. 29, 2014 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division (Civil Action No. 4:14-cv-02775) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The consent decree settling the suit, in addition to monetary relief for the applicant, includes provisions for equal employment opportunity training, reporting and postings of anti-discrimination notices.
As a result of the settlement, Frame will receive $45,000, and WCI has committed to observe and obey the ADA in the future, to post a notice of its commitment to the law, and not to retaliate against any person who participated in the case.
"The ADA was intended to protect not only people with disabilities, but workers without disabilities who have disabled family members associated with them," said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director for the Atlanta District Office. "Employers are not permitted to refuse a job to an applicant because his wife has a disability."
According to EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Dawkins, "Associational discrimination is not uncommon in our workplaces. Employees working hard to take care of loved ones should not have the added burden of being denied jobs for which they are qualified."
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.