EEOC Sues JDKD Enterprises for Disability Discrimination

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

McDonald’s Franchise Terminated Long-Term Employee Based on His Autism Spectrum Disorder, Federal Agency Charges

PHILADELPHIA — JDKD Enterprises, LP, a Sewell-New Jersey limited partnership that owns and operates numerous McDonald’s franchises in New Jersey, violated federal law when it fired a grill cook due to his disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.

According to the suit, a grill cook who has autism spectrum disorder worked at McDonald’s for 37 years, including for about ten years at a McDonald’s restaurant in Deptford, New Jersey. Throughout his employment, the grill cook received awards and accolades for his excellent job performance. The grill cook’s disability was apparent, and it included his tendency to speak in a loud voice. The EEOC charges that only two months after JDKD Enterprises assumed ownership of this McDonald’s restaurant in Deptford, it abruptly terminated the grill cook because of his disability, despite his continued excellent job performance.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on disability. The ADA also requires an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation if needed for a qualified employee to do the essential functions of the job. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. JDKD Enterprises, LP, Civil Action No. 1:21-cv-16441) in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey after first attempting to reach voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In the lawsuit, the EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for the grill cook, and other equitable relief.

“In this case, the grill cook received awards for excellent job performance during his 37-year career with McDonald’s,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “The only thing that changed was new owners who acted based on his disability, not on his demonstrated outstanding job performance. The purpose of the ADA to eliminate employment discrimination for people with disabilities who are qualified to do the job, and that is why we filed this lawsuit. The EEOC will continue to stand up for job discrimination victims.”

EEOC Philadelphia District Office Director Jamie R. Williamson added, “The EEOC stands ready to protect the employment rights of qualified workers with disabilities. We encourage employers to look at the resources EEOC provides on employer responsibilities under the ADA and to make decisions based on abilities -- not biases.”

The EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office is one of four offices in the Philadelphia District, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the 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.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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