Hotel Fires Autistic Front Desk Clerk After Denying Him Access to a Job Coach
SAN DIEGO – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced it has filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against Tarsadia Hotels, doing business as Comfort Suites, which operates several hotels throughout California.
The EEOC filed its suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (EEOC v. Tarsadia Hotels dba Comfort Suites, Case No. 10-CV-1921-DMS-BGS), charging that the Comfort Suites Mission Valley hotel in San Diego failed to reasonably accommodate a front desk employee and effectively disciplined and discharged him due to his disability, in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
Comfort Suites initially hired the front desk clerk in 2008. The employee, who is autistic, had prior hotel experience in a similar position which earned him a positive recommendation. The EEOC contends that upon hire, the employee was belittled by his supervisor, denied access to a state-funded job coach, disciplined and ultimately discharged within four months of hire. The EEOC charges that the employee was not only denied access to his job coach, but that the job coach was made to leave the premises despite the fact that she requested only to observe the employee working. The job coach would have provided services free of any charge to the hotel.
The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the employee and injunctive relief intended to prevent further disability discrimination from occurring at Comfort Suites.
“Although it has been 20 years since the passage of the ADA, employers still need to understand that employees with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations which pose no undue hardship,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office. “Employers must heed such requests for reasonable accommodation, particularly when the requests entail little or no burden on business operations as in this case.”
Marla Stern, local director of the EEOC’s San Diego Local Office, said, “Individuals with disabilities have the right to enjoy the privileges and benefits of employment. Disability-related accommodations make it possible for employees with disabilities to succeed in the workplace, often at a minimal cost.”
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.