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PRESS RELEASE
9-14-11

EEOC Sues Owner of California McDonald's for Disability Discrimination

Supervisor With Cerebral Palsy Demoted and Forced to Quit Upon Change in Ownership, Federal Agency Charged

FRESNO, Calif. – Alia Corporation, a property management company and owner of a McDonald’s in Oakhurst, Calif., unlawfully demoted a supervisor because of his cerebral palsy and forced him to quit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a disability discrimination lawsuit it filed today.

Derrick Morgan had worked under a prior owner of the Oakhurst McDonald’s without problems since 2006, according to the EEOC.  In fact, Morgan was promoted from crew member to floor supervisor in 2008 and was generally known to be a good employee.  By January 2009, Alia Corporation – which operates over 20 McDonald’s franchise locations throughout central California – assumed control of the restaurant in Oakhurst.  Within a couple of months, new management demoted Morgan to a janitorial position, cut his hours nearly in half and reduced his hourly wages, the EEOC asserted.  Due to the steep reduction in income, Morgan was forced to quit by June 2009. 

The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Alia Corporation d/b/a McDonald’s, Case No. 1:11-cv-01549-AWI-DLB) against the Merced, Calif.-based company in U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of California after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  The EEOC’s suit argues that Alia Corporation engaged in disability discrimination that violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).  The suit seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of Morgan along with injunctive relief intended to prevent further instances of discrimination.  

“Employers must let go of their stereotypes and fears about employing people with disabilities,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which includes Fresno in its jurisdiction.  “This is a case where the company illegally stripped a well-qualified worker of his ability to earn a living due to misperceptions about his disability.”

Melissa Barrios, director of the EEOC’s Fresno Local Office, said, “People with disabilities have the same right to work as the rest of us.  In recent years, the laws against disability discrimination have become more flexible to cover most all individuals who suffer bias as a result of a physical or mental condition.”

The EEOC is the federal agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.