Nonprofit Denied Accommodations to Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Employees and Fired Employees Who Requested Medical Leave, Federal Agency Charges
WASHINGTON - Didlake, Inc. a government contractor that provides janitorial and maintenance employees to federal worksites throughout Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a suit filed today.
The EEOC alleged that although Didlake, a not-for-profit corporation, employs a significant number of deaf and hard-of-hearing employees, it failed to provide communications accommodations, including American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters for safety meetings. Didlake also violated the ADA by maintaining a policy of terminating employees who requested medical leave but did not qualify for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (the FMLA), the EEOC said.
Employers, including nonprofits, are required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities if doing so would not pose an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Didlake, Inc., Case No.8:23-cv-2618), in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In the lawsuit, the EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for the employees, and equitable relief to prevent future discrimination.
“This lawsuit demonstrates that ADA violations occur when employers hire employees with disabilities and then fail to provide them with necessary reasonable accommodations,” said EEOC Philadelphia Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
“Employers need to remember that the ADA and the FMLA have different requirements for when an employer must provide medical leave,” said Mindy E. Weinstein, director of the EEOC’s Washington Field Office. “An employee may be entitled to leave under the ADA even if they are not eligible under the FMLA.”
For more information on disability discrimination, please visit https://www.eeoc.gov/disability-discrimination.
The EEOC’s Washington Field Office is one of four offices in the Philadelphia District, which investigates discrimination charges and prosecutes cases arising out of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, parts of New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at https://www.eeoc.gov/.