The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") recently announced that it had settled a disability discrimination lawsuit it had filed against SITA Information Networking Computing USA, Inc. This case was somewhat unusual in that the discrimination at issue allegedly occurred before the employee's employment had even commenced.
According to the allegations of the complaint filed by the EEOC, Darlene Case was offered a position with SITA and, before accepting the offer, she requested an accommodation of having her start date pushed back due to cancer surgery she learned she would have to undergo. Although the company granted this request, it later rescinded its employment offer when Ms. Case asked that she be allowed to work part-time for the first two weeks of her employment to complete her recovery.
After Ms. Case filed a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC, the agency determined there was cause for discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and filed a lawsuit against SITA. The employee obtained her counsel and intervened in the lawsuit, eventually settling her claims for an undisclosed amount of money, at which point the EEOC and SITA entered into a consent decree resolving the lawsuit.
This case demonstrates that claims under the ADA and other employment discrimination statutes may arise even in connection with the hiring process, as well as after the employment begins. In addition, many people pursuing employment discrimination matters with the EEOC do not realize they have the right to have their own attorney to represent their interests. Importantly, the interests of the aggreived employee may not always be the same as the interests of the EEOC.
If you have been the victim of discrimination in employment as the result of a disability or perceived disability you should discuss the matter with an experienced disability discrimination attorney as soon as possible.