Security Company Fired Employee During Pandemic Citing Concerns Over Disability And Age, Federal Agency Charges
NEW YORK – Maximum Security NYC, Inc., a security company headquartered in Queens, New York, violated federal law when it denied work assignments to and then fired a 57-year-old employee based on his disability and age, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, after the employee returned to work following a heart attack suffered on the job in December 2019, he was subjected to discriminatory comments by his supervisor that he should retire at his age and in his condition, that Maximum Security did not want him to have another heart attack on the job, and he should retire already. Although the employee initially continued to receive work as a fire life safety director, he was told to stop reporting to work in March 2020, purportedly due to lack of work during the emerging COVID-19 pandemic. At that time and afterwards, Maximum Security NYC, Inc. continued to assign work to younger fire life safety directors with no disabilities. In August 2020, the company asked the employee to resign, citing his age and to avoid the employee having another heart attack on the job. The employee refused and was fired.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which protect employees from workplace discrimination based on disability and age. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (EEOC v. Maximum Security NYC, Inc., Civil Action No. 22-5641) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks relief designed to remedy and prevent disability and age discrimination. The case will be litigated by EEOC trial attorney Liane T. Rice and EEOC supervisory trial attorney Kimberly Cruz.
“The COVID-19 pandemic made employees with disabilities and older employees particularly vulnerable to discrimination based on stereotypes about their ability to work,” said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office. “Those stereotypes are not a lawful basis for employment decisions.”
Timothy Riera, acting director of the New York District Office, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the American workplace, but never changed the protections under federal law against disability and age discrimination.”
The EEOC’s New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, northern New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information about disability discrimination is available at https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc-disability-related-resources.
More information about age discrimination is available at https://www.eeoc.gov/age-discrimination.