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PRESS RELEASE
3-3-10

Valley Isle Motors to Pay $32,500 for Refusing to Hire Applicant with Perceived Disability

Car Dealership Dropped Job Offer After Drug Test Results Revealed Use of Prescription Meds, EEOC Charged

HONOLULU – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced the settlement of a lawsuit filed against Valley Isle Motors Ltd, a Maui-based car dealership, resulting in a $32,500 payment to a job applicant and other relief to remedy alleged disability discrimination.

In its lawsuit (EEOC v. Valley Isle Motors, Ltd., Case No. CV09-0053 HG KSC), the EEOC asserted that the car dealership reneged on an offer to hire a job applicant as a salesperson only after a urine test revealed he was taking prescribed medication. Valley Isle Motors then erroneously perceived the applicant as too disabled to do the job despite normal medical test results and medical authorization to the contrary, the EEOC said.

The EEOC argued that the conduct was in direct violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The EEOC originally filed the lawsuit in February 2009 on the applicant’s behalf after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.

The parties entered into a three-year consent decree, approved yesterday by the U.S. District Court, District of Hawaii. The consent decree requires that Valley Isle Motors implement an internal policy, procedures and staff training to safeguard against disability discrimination. The car dealership must also submit annual reports to the EEOC to track future complaints of disability bias and requests for disability-related accommodations during the hiring process.

“Employers cannot make assumptions about a prospective employee’s ability to work,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office. “The ADA expressly prohibits that stereotypes of this nature weigh into the decision to hire or deny hire to an individual.”

Timothy Riera, director of the EEOC’s Honolulu Local Office, added, “Employers should heed the lesson learned by Valley Isle Motors and be mindful to judge a candidate by his or her qualifications, not some ill-informed presumption. Communication with prospective employees is the key in determining whether one’s actual or perceived condition will interfere with work. Businesses should take advantage of appropriate training opportunities that are available to learn how to appropriately engage in that interactive process.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.