Company Fired Employee for Not Wearing Prosthetic Arm, Federal Agency Charged
MIAMI - A Florida full-service asset protection security firm violated federal law by firing an employee because of his disability, a missing arm, and then punishing him for complaining about the discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. The EEOC had charged that Florida Commercial Security Services, Corp., doing business as Florida Construction Security Services (FCSS), terminated a guard for failing to wear his prosthetic arm, even though it was unnecessary, and then refused to assign him to another position because he filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC.
According to the EEOC's suit filed today, Alberto Tarud-saieh applied for a position as a security officer with FCSS in July 2010. FCSS hired Tarud-saieh for a driving post, and he was responsible for driving around a community association in a security vehicle. Following his first day of work, however, the president of the community association called FCSS and complained that FCSS "was a joke for sending them a one-arm security officer." Although Tarud-saieh does not need his prosthetic arm to perform his job, and although FCSS never instructed him to wear it, FCSS removed Tarud-saieh from the position immediately. Further, once Tarud-saieh filed his discrimination charge, FCSS refused to assign him to another position, the EEOC said.
Disability discrimination and retaliation for complaining about it violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Florida Commercial Security Services, Corp., Case No.1:13-cv-20465-WMH) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida only after exhausting its conciliation efforts to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement. The agency is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Tarud-saieh, as well as appropriate injunctive relief to prevent any further discriminatory practices.
"The ADA requires that people with disabilities be judged on their ability to perform the essential functions of the job -- not on stereotypes or appearances," said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC's Miami District Office. "Customer complaints about an employee's appearance created by his disability are not a legitimate reason to terminate him."
Malcolm Medley, director of the EEOC's Miami District Office, added, "There is no evidence Mr. Tarud-saieh was incapable of performing the job for which he was hired, with or without his prosthetic arm. He was unlawfully and suddenly terminated after only one day on the job based solely on his disability. The EEOC is here to protect people against this kind of injustice."
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. The Miami District Office's jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.