Hotel Fired Manager After He Was Hospitalized for Depression, Federal Agency Charges
ST. LOUIS – Operators of an Omaha hotel violated federal law when they fired a general manager after being hospitalized for depression, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the suit, the manager worked at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites, which is owned and operated by Anant Enterprises, Anant Operations, and Farnam Lodging. He advised the companies’ human resources official in the fall of 2019 that he was going to miss work because he was experiencing depressive symptoms including anger, frustration, and thoughts of self-harm without any apparent trigger, and needed to go to the hospital for treatment. Two days later, before the manager was discharged from the hospital, a company representative told him he was being fired because they were afraid he might hurt other people.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on disability. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Anant Enterprises, L.L.C., et al., Civil Action No. 8:22-cv-345) in U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement via its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory, and punitive damages and reinstatement for the employee, as well as injunctive relief to prevent future discrimination.
“For people with mental health conditions, employers’ stereotypes can be as disabling, or more so, than the conditions themselves,” said Andrea G. Baran, regional attorney for the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office. “The ADA ensures equal employment opportunity for everyone, including those with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and similar conditions.”
“Mental health conditions are widespread, with approximately one in five adults in the U.S. experiencing some sort of mental health issue in 2020,” said David Davis, acting director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office. “Employers must not let stigma or stereotypes influence their treatment of these workers.”
According to its website, Anant is a hospitality leader that owns and operates 10 hotel properties in Omaha, Lincoln, and McCook, Nebraska.
The EEOC’s St. Louis District office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and a portion of southern Illinois.
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/disability-discrimination.