Coastal Georgia Seafood Restaurant Fired Employee Because of His Prosthetic Leg, Federal Agency Charged
BRUNSWICK, Ga. – A St. Mary's, Ga. seafood restaurant violated federal law by firing an employee because of his disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia (2:11-cv-00157-LGW-JEG).
According to the EEOC, Lang's Marina Restaurant hired James Wilson as a kitchen helper in February 2009. After working one shift without incident, the restaurant's manager told Wilson that he was being terminated because his prosthetic leg posed a safety hazard for the company. Wilson spoke with the restaurant's owner seeking to get his job back. However, the owner told Wilson that the restaurant's decision to terminate him was final.
Discrimination based on a disability is prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended (ADA). The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. As part of the suit, the EEOC is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief prohibiting the company from engaging in any employment practices that discriminate on the basis of disability.
“The employer apparently concluded that Mr. Wilson’s condition posed a direct threat to himself or others in the workplace; however, that determination must be based on actual evidence and not mere speculation,” said Bernice Williams Kimbrough, district director for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “The ADA ensures that people with disabilities are not denied employment due to myths, fears and stereotypes, and the EEOC stands ready to enforce those rights.”
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.