EEOC Sues Waterway Gas & Wash Company for Disability Discrimination

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

Company Fired Employee After Seizure, Federal Agency Charges

DENVER - Waterway Gas and Wash Company, a national provider of car wash services, violated federal law when it fired an employee because he had a seizure, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed yesterday.

According to the EEOC's suit, Waterway fired employee Tyson Aoyagi from its Lone Tree, Colorado location about two weeks after he suffered a seizure at work and requested accommodation for his disability. Aoyagi was in the process of training for a promotion to Team Leader when he had the seizure. Despite Aoyagi's doctor releasing him to return to work and perform most of his job functions, Waterway fired Aoyagi because of his disability, the EEOC said. The suit also alleges that Waterway refused to discuss his request for accommodation and denied it without explanation. The EEOC further alleged that the com­pany discharged Aoyagi in retaliation for requesting reasonable accommodation for his disability.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on disability and from retaliating against individuals who request accommodation. The EEOC sued in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado (EEOC v. Waterway Gas & Wash Co., Civil Action No. 1:19-cv-02583) after first trying to settle through its conciliation process. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages for Aoyagi as well as injunctive relief prohibiting Waterway from discriminating based on disability in the future. 

"The ADA requires employers to accommodate employees with disabilities who are qualified to do their jobs," said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office. "A seizure at work should prompt a conversation with the employee and medical experts about possible accommodations - not discharge."

EEOC Denver Field Director Amy Burkholder added, "This case is a perfect example of a talented employee who was rising through the ranks being discarded after one manifestation of his disability, regardless of his ability to do the job. This type of discrimination is a violation of federal law."

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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