EEOC Recovers $49K for Job Applicant Told He Was “Too Slow” for Position as Food Packager

Hopefully, this staffing agency and others like it won’t make any more assumptions about applicants being “too slow” for the job.

Adecco USA, Inc., a staffing agency based in Jacksonville, Fla., will pay $49,500 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced last Friday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, in April 2016, an applicant with learning and other mental disabilities visited Adecco’s office in Corry, Pa., to apply for a food packaging and distri­bution position. The EEOC charged that an Adecco official refused to place the applicant with disabilities in the position he requested. The official told him he was “too slow” for the job after he had difficulty reading and comprehending a pre-employment test. The Adecco official placed other appli­cants in the food packag­ing and distribution position and subsequently offered the applicant a job cleaning cars, according to the lawsuit.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employment discrimination based on disability. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Adecco USA, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00250-SPB) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Erie Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to paying $49,500 to the worker, the agreed-upon consent decree approved by the federal court enjoins future violations of the ADA and requires that Adecco implement various measures to prevent workplace disability discrimination. Those measures include modifications to its existing policy prohibiting disability discrimination and extensive ADA training for certain person­nel. The company must post a notice to employees relating to the settlement and furnish reports to the EEOC semi-annually concerning allegations of disability discrimination regarding the Corry location.

“Just like the rest of the labor force, workers with learning and other mental disabilities provide highly valuable contributions to their employers and to our national economy, and those workers have a legal right to do so free from discrimination,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence.

EEOC District Director Jamie Williamson added, “Employers cannot deny a job to a qualified applicant because of his disability. We are pleased that this settlement compensates the worker for his monetary losses and will protect other workers from disability discrimination.”

Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

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