Thursday, September 30, 2004
EEOC Charges Lutheran Group Fired Amputee Because of Disability
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A Lutheran social services agency violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it fired a case manager because she is an amputee, an attorney with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged yesterday.
Senior Trial Attorney Connie Liem said a lawsuit on behalf of the woman, whom she declined to identify, was to have been filed yesterday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The decision to file the suit was made after extensive efforts at conciliation failed, Liem said.
The lawyer said the woman had her right leg amputated at age 11 as a result of a birth defect. She worked for Lutheran Social Services of Southern California, based in Garden Grove, for about two years before being terminated, Liem explained.
The EEOC’s suit contends the termination violated the ADA. The agency also failed to provide the employee with reasonable accommodations while she was working there, the EEOC claims.
Liem described the woman’s job as “sedentary.”
“She could have been reasonably accommodated and she could have kept her job,” the attorney asserted. She declined to speculate on the agency’s reasons for its actions, but said the employee was not given enough “time to get her medical results in order” in support of her request for accommodations.
The suit seeks back pay, front pay, and compensatory and punitive damages. The agency is also being asked to provide company-wide training on anti-discrimination law, the EEOC said in a news release.
Liem said it is not clear whether the woman wishes to be reinstated in her job, calling that “something that’s still up in the air right now.”
The attorney added:
“Her concern is that people become aware of what the ADA requires.”
In a statement, EEOC Los Angeles Regional Attorney Anna Y. Park said employers “must engage in an interactive process by initiating and maintaining an open dialogue with employees about their disabilities and possible reasonable accommodation.”
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company