Staffing Companies Refused to Hire Applicant with Back Impairment, EEOC Says
BALTIMORE – Two staffing agencies with headquarters in Georgia, Axiom Staffing Group, Inc., and Axiom Staffing Group of Virginia, Inc., engaged in disability discrimination at their Hagerstown, Md., facility when they refused to hire an applicant because of her back impairment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced in a lawsuit today.
The EEOC said that when an agent of the staffing companies learned during a job interview that Deborah Reynolds had a back impairment, the agent declared that Reynolds would be “too much of a liability because of her back.” The Axiom representative said the staffing companies would not hire anyone with health problems because it “would be too burdensome to replace them should something happen.” Even though Reynolds responded that she could perform clerical and customer service duties as she had for years, the companies’ agent reiterated that they would not hire her “because of her back,” the EEOC said.
A few months later, Reynolds called to ask about a job advertisement for a customer service representative job posted by the Axiom staffing companies. Despite her qualifications, the EEOC says that the companies’ representative told Reynolds that she would not be hired because of her “back ailment.”
The ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability. The ADA also requires employers to reasonably accommodate an individual’s disability unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer. The EEOC attempted to reach a voluntary settlement before it filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division (Civil Action No. 09-cv-02567-WDQ).
“The ADA was passed precisely to prevent situations like this -- when employers act based on stereotypes, myths and fears rather than on accurate assessments of a person’s abilities and need for accommodation, if any,” said Debra Lawrence, acting regional attorney of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Maryland. “Employers who ignore the requirements of the ADA not only lose out on hiring valuable employees, they open themselves up to lawsuits such as this one.”
During fiscal year 2008, disability discrimination charges rose to 19,453-- an increase of 10 percent from the prior fiscal year and the highest number of disability charges filed with the EEOC in 14 years.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on October 2, 2009.
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