Federal Agency Charges That Employer Never Gave Legally Blind Employee a Chance
MOBILE, Ala. - The Sneakers Corporation, doing business as Just Sneakers, Inc., violated federal law by discriminating against a legally blind sales clerk because of his disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. Sneakers, Inc. is a Georgia corporation operating athletic specialty retail stores in Georgia and Alabama.
The EEOC alleged in its lawsuit that, after rehiring a former employee into a sales clerk position, Sneakers terminated him because of his blindness without discussion or consideration of any reasonable accommodation. The EEOC also alleged that Sneakers treated non-disabled employees more favorably, including not terminating them when they actually displayed performance problems.
Disability discrimination violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. The Sneakers Corporation., Case No. 1:12-cv-00827-TFM) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama after an investigation was completed by the EEOC's Mobile Local Office and after the agency first attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit seeks monetary damages, including back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief.
"Employers clearly violate federal law by making employment decisions based on an employee's disability -- this type of action simply is unacceptable," said EEOC district director Delner Franklin-Thomas. "This agency is committed to putting an end to disability discrimination in the workplace."
EEOC Regional Attorney C. Emanuel Smith added, "In most cases, an employer can prevent problems like this by simply working out a solution, which is usually easily accomplished. When an employer is intransigent and refuses to even discuss such a rational course, the EEOC will protect the rights of employees with disabilities."
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The EEOC's Birmingham District covers Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties) and the Florida Panhandle. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.