Audio-Visual Company Fired Worker Who Requested Telework Accommodation, Federal Agency Charged
BALTIMORE – Design and Integration, Inc., a leading provider of audio-visual technology solutions, will pay $25,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to resolve a federal disability discrimination suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a sales administrator who worked in Design and Integration’s Baltimore headquarters requested to telework one day per week for a three- or four-week period as a reasonable accommodation for her disability, anxiety and depression. Design and Integration refused to grant this accommodation even though the sales administrator could perform her duties remotely and the company allowed other employees to telework. Instead, company management discharged the sales administrator, advising that it would not have hired her had it known about her anxiety and depression.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on disability. The ADA also requires employers to reasonably accommodate an individual's disability unless the employer can prove that doing so would be an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Design and Integration, Inc., Civil Action No. 20-cv-2350) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to $25,000 in monetary relief to the worker, the four-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit enjoins Design and Integration from violating the ADA, including from refusing to provide telework as a reasonable accommodation. Design and Integration must provide equitable relief, including developing and distributing an ADA policy to employees, providing training on the ADA, posting a notice of the settlement and posters required by EEOC regulations, and reporting to the EEOC on its compliance with the consent decree and its handling of any future requests for reasonable accommodation.
“We appreciate that Design and Integration worked with us to resolve this case amicably and expeditiously,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “In addition to the monetary relief to the worker, the policy changes will protect all workers from disability discrimination.”
EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie R. Williamson added, “The EEOC has long maintained that telework may be a reasonable accommodation and this past year certainly has demonstrated how employees remain productive while teleworking. We hope this resolution encourages employers to be flexible when an employee requests a reasonable accommodation.”
The EEOC’s Baltimore Field Office is one of four offices in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.